The Decoder – September 2015

From the Desk of the CEO

Happy Literacy Month!

The summer may seem like a relaxing time for many, but the Decoda staff team has been working diligently throughout the season. As we begin the month of September after a long, dry (but busy) summer, I am thrilled to announce the launch of our second Literacy is Life campaign!

On September 8th, which is UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, we’ll be officially launching the Literacy is Life Campaign with a flag raising and proclamation of September as Literacy Month at Vancouver City Hall.

The event, which begins at 11:30am, will be held at the ceremonial flagpole on the north side of the building and the proclamation will be read by Councillor Kerry Jang. Supporters, local literacy community members, partners and donors will be present. We invite you to join us to celebrate and commemorate the triumphs we have achieved together for literacy.

Vancouver is not the only community to proclaim September as Literacy Month. This year, we’ve asked our partner organizations across the province to urge their mayors and city councils to recognize the importance of literacy. So far, leaders in 17 communities across BC have officially proclaimed Literacy Month, and more proclamations continue to be made.

As well, for the first time ever, major landmarks, such as the sails at Canada Place, Telus Garden, Science World, BC Place and the main entranceway of Parliament Buildings in Victoria will be lit up in purple on September 8th to commemorate Literacy Day. We hope that you will be able to take photos and post them on social media to share with our online community! Be sure to use the hashtag #literacyislife when interacting with us.

The Literacy is Life Campaign will coincide with other well-known events, such as Raise-a-Reader Day on September 23, in a collaborative effort with our partners to raise awareness of the importance of literacy across British Columbia.

To further help raise awareness of Literacy Month, we’ve enlisted CBC TV and Radio as sponsors. Public service announcements will be running throughout September on your local CBC channel. Let us know if you see/hear them; we’d love to hear what you think!

After the success of our first Team Trivia Challenge held last year, other communities across BC are joining in and holding their own events. Find a listing of the ten province-wide events here, and be sure to visit for more information about other ways that you can get involved in our campaign, including entering our online contest for a chance to win some great prizes.

I’d also like to send a friendly reminder that our Making Sense of the Modern World conference will be held on November 18th to 20th, 2015 – you can register here. Our keynote speaker will be prolific First Nations playwright Drew Hayden-Taylor, who will be doing a talk on Wednesday evening entitled “White Water Canoeing Down the River of Aboriginal Humour” – tickets can be purchased separately for this event here. We hope you’ll be able to join us for what promises to be an educational and illuminating event.

As always, I encourage you to contact me with any suggestions or comments about our campaign and our work.

Please join us in celebrating Literacy Month!



Brenda Le Clair


Andrea walked into the Bridging to Literacy space in Ashcroft with a keen sense of determination. She stated that she wished to take another chance at learning, and to improve her literacy skills.

In January, 2015, approximately five years after she last attended a session with a tutor, she was connected with Ann Belcham, the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Ashcroft.

“[When] Andrea started coming to me in January, [she was] a non-reader with a very limited number of sight vocabulary words,” Ann recalls. “When she got out her ‘resources,’ she had some books that she used a stylus for, to make them talk.”

In that session, they played games with one of the books, and Ann was able to get a good evaluation of what Andrea knew, and a sense of how keen she was to learn.

“I started [Andrea] on the A-Z tutoring program for children as she was comfortable with that concept. We used flash cards to learn sight vocabulary, make sentences, and to see how words can look alike,” Ann says.

Andrea read the books eagerly, and as she progressed, she carefully wrote out sentences using the story so that she could learn her words.

“I pushed her a bit every week so she didn’t go out of her comfort zone,” Andrea remembers. “Her progress was amazing and her support system at home was great.”

Together, both tutor and learner formed a strong bond.  The improvements were almost immediate – significantly, these changes reached far beyond reading books.

“We have a great relationship,” Ann says. “We laugh and tease each other each week. We talk about a lot of things that have to do with the stories we are reading. We look up concepts on the internet and use pictures to see what we are talking about. It is fun to help her broaden her horizons.”

Andrea has achieved true success – she has even overcome an obstacle that could easily have been discouraging.

Developing learners need a strong amount of support and encouragement, but while her support system at home was a strong one, it waned as the season changed and more people tended to occupy themselves with outdoor activities. She felt like at one point, the encouragement she felt from her social networks to go to her sessions had diminished.

However, her keen sense of determination, endured and she continues to learn new things both in her tutor sessions and at home.

“Andrea continues to move forward. What she has learned and continues to learn has grown,” Ann says. “She tries to sound out words now and looks for little words in the big word. She knows about compound words and looks for the two words in them.”

Andrea’s main goal is to get her driver’s license, but she has also reached other goals along the way – goals that she may not have known about when she first began attending sessions at Bridging to Literacy.

“She hit a milestone in late May,” Ann reports proudly. “She got a smart phone and can use it. She’s able to know the names on her contact list using both words and pictures. She showed me her pictures and a few of the things she can do on the phone. We celebrated that milestone.”

Andrea has become a great lifelong learner. “I have to say I am very proud of her and how far she has come,” notes Ann. “She is doing wonderfully.”

Decoda Literacy Solutions provides resources, training and funds to support adult learners in British Columbia. For more information about adult literacy, contact us at


Back by popular request! Our provincial literacy conference, called Making Sense of the Modern World, will be held in November at the Radisson Hotel in Richmond, BC.

Register for our conference here.