Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award top winner: Further Education Society of Alberta

Earlier this month, Further Education Society of Alberta (FESA) was awarded top honours for this year’s Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award for their program, Cooks with Stones (CwS). 

Cooks with Stones celebrates the unique, traditional teachings of the Iyarhe Nakoda Eyithkabi, which means Mountain people of Nakoda (also known as Stoney Nakoda). The program builds literacy skills and supports meaningful job placements with any employer partner through traditional Stoney Skills and teachings and demonstrates how they relate to workplace success. CwS was created with the community as part of FESA’s Going the Distance Project to address the under representation of Indigenous populations in the labour force by supporting businesses in Tourism and Hospitality.

CwS builds the capacity of employer partners to recruit, mentor and retain Indigenous employees by building their cultural competencies, their understanding of mentorship, Indigenous culture in relation to the workplace, and of the role of literacy and essential skills in the workplace. The program is a collaborative effort to remove barriers to employment for Stoney youth and creates opportunities for employment in the Hospitality and Tourism sector in the Stoney region. Through CwS, participants not only improve their literacy and essential skills, but they also start with a foundation of Stoney culture, traditions, history, and learning from the land, and then are shown how their skills are transferrable to a non-Indigenous workplace.

The Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award, sponsored by Canada Life, honours innovation in the creation and delivery (or in the development, implementation and delivery) of adult literacy or adult-integrated family literacy programs delivered by a community organization in Canada. The adult-focused literacy program makes a positive contribution to the lives of the participants as well as the community and could serve as a model for other organizations to adapt.

“At Canada Life we recognize the need for community programs that focus on implementing innovations in advancing literacy,” said Debbie Down, Director, Community Relations at Canada Life. “We’re proud to work alongside ABC Life Literacy Canada to recognize organizations supporting diverse communities by finding tailored ways to improve adult literacy skills. Congratulations to Further Education Society of Alberta and both of the honourable mention winners.”

ABC Life Literacy Canada was thrilled to read about the work happening at Further Education Society of Alberta and looks forward to seeing what lies ahead for this exciting program. If you weren’t able to attend our virtual awards presentation and roundtable discussion, which featured a discussion with staff from Further Education Society of Alberta about the program, you can watch the recording.