The Rotary Club of Chestermere collaborated with the Chestermere Public Library to feature an Inclusivity Collection, which showcases a variety of educational materials.
The Inclusivity Collection features books designed for young children, teens, and adults, books printed in Braille, and in audio format for the sight-impaired and videos.
“Rotary Chestermere recognized the important and necessary work for people to learn about the inequality and social injustices for people of colour still going on today and believed that educational materials were needed,” said the Rotary Club of Chestermere President, Akesh Aheer.
During work with the City of Chestermere Diversity & Inclusion Strategist Joanne Kinya Baker on the Toward Parity project in 2019, a recommended reading list was developed.
Members of the Rotary Club of Chestermere quickly recognized that not everyone can afford to purchase a $30 book.
After City Councillor Ritesh Narayan joined the Rotary Club of Chestermere, he suggested the club partner with the Chestermere Public Library and become the club’s liaison for this project.
“Like the Canadian society, Chestermere is also growing in size and becoming more and more diverse. At a time when there is so much discrimination around us it is more important than ever for members of our society to do their part in addressing social issues,” Narayan said.
“The best way to do this is to learn about different groups. Discrimination is learned behavior; it is not easy to unlearn such behavior, but it is easy to learn new things to dispel deeply rooted attitudes. Discrimination stems from the fear of the other, the other that people don’t know anything about,” he said.
Adding, “Through the Inclusivity Collection, Rotary is encouraging our community to obliterate the fear through knowledge. We have a diverse and amazing community and through the Inclusivity Collection we want to bring about social change where there is understanding, respect, and love.”
The Rotary Club of Chestermere members met with Chestermere Public Library Executive Director, Miranda Johnson through Zoom to discuss the goals and budget of the Inclusivity Collection.
“We had every faith in Miranda’s expertise in her field and gave her free rein to select the materials and create the display,” Aheer said.
Johnson estimates the Inclusivity Collection would be available for residents for about three to five years, depending on continued funding and community interest.
“The Rotary Club has committed to an annual contribution to maintain the collection. Thank you to them for this generous contribution,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Chestermere Public Library staffers have not heard any feedback from residents regarding the Inclusivity Collection, however, the display is brand new, and due to COVID-19 provincial restrictions, the library has a decreased door count.
“We will be posting on our Facebook page, which will generate interest. Our staff is very excited about the collection,” Johnson said.