The discussion to form a B.C. IRA provincial council took place among the local IRA members over many years. The turning point came in 1991, after the late Dame Marie Clay, in her role as president of IRA, in her historical visit to each of the Canadian provinces. She encouraged the B.C. IRA council leaders to strengthen our voice in the Association by using the structures already in the organization, and then the idea to form a provincial council took a serious turn.
Members from the three councils at the time (LOMCIRA, VIRA, and CINCIRA) met on February 14, 1994 and submitted the application to make the provincial council become a reality. The official charter to form the British Columbia Council of the International Reading Association (BCLCIRA) from IRA in June, 1995.
The provincial council is intended to be an umbrella organization which provides leadership and support to the local councils. One of its first decisions was to establish the Distinguished Lecturers' series which has since become an annual event. Among the many distinguished speakers who have spoken at this special and important event are: Jack Pikulski, Jerry Johns, Mary Ellen Vogt, Katherine Au, Donald Leu, Terrell Young and Carol Santa. These internationally renowned speakers offer our community of teachers the opportunity to hear first hand the important ideas and classroom implications of literacy based research.
In addition, the provincial council cosponsors the Annual Fall Conference with a local council on the October Provincial Professional Day. The first one, on October, 1995 was with the Lower Mainland Council of IRA (LOMCIRA). BCLCIRA continued to co sponsor mostly with the LOMCIRA, however it also cosponsored with CINCIRA in 1996 and 2008. A genuine effort was made to reactivate VIRA on the island. One of the outcomes of this partnership was the decision to cosponsor a fall conference with the READ Society in Victoria in 1998.
The provincial council also participated in many international outreach programs. We have provided a new laptop computer to educators in Malawi, sent children’s books to a community library in Ghana, to a small longhouse village in Borneo, to a classroom library in Jamaica and to a mountain school in Manang, Nepal. Currently we are actively helping to establish a community library in Busolwe, Uganda. Each one of these exemplary programs demonstrates our strong commitment to global literacy
The provincial council, BCLCIRA has celebrated over 15 years of literacy programs and events in B.C. as it works to carry out its mandate to support the five goals of the IRA: supporting and providing leadership in global literacy, enhancing and improving professional development of literacy leaders, advocacy of literacy issues, establishing and strengthening partnerships, and creating an informational database.
In 2015, the International Reading Association formally changed its name to the International Literacy Association to reflect the changes and growth in the discipline since the turn of the century. We, at BCLCILA are proud to be growing and changing with the ILA.
Four students from Tecumseh Elementary School recently placed 3rd in the Kids' Lit QuizNational competition in Toronto, Ontario. A Toronto team will be heading to New Zealand to compete in the World Competition 2016. See details in Inquire2Empower blog post (carriefroese.wordpress.com). Special Thanks to Vancouver Kidsbooks for their moral and financial support for both the provincial competition and supporting the BC winners in their competition in Toronto.