BC Association of Community Response Networks

Building Up Libraries to Break Down Barriers

Black Lives Matter (BLM) reached a tipping point with the murder of George Floyd by Minnesota Police in Spring 2020. This event was quickly followed by the discovery of mass graves located at Canada’s residential school sites and stories of hate crimes against Asians. The subsequent protests triggered a global outcry for justice and change. The swell also reached small, remote towns in the Kootenays, where one family’s kitchen table conversation became a community response to support learning and education to affect racism and prejudice across the generations.

SLIDE – Supporting Learning of Inclusivity, Diversity, and Empathy – is run by a small group of dedicated women based in Kaslo, BC, who are committed to building diversity in the community through books. (A town of 1,000 people, Kaslo is a hub that serves the over 10,000 people who live in the surrounding region.)

Initially launched in April 2020, a month into the pandemic, the community has now purchased over 550 books, all donated to public and school libraries, covering topics such as race, gender, sexuality, family, ageism, mental and physical health, neurodiversity, immigration, and social justice.

“We first started donating books to school libraries for grades kindergarten to 12, and then we looked for books geared to adult readers who frequented the public library,” explains Kaslo Community Response Network (CRN) Coordinator Elaine Smith. “We felt it was equally important to educate parents so they can then have good conversations at home.”

Although BC CRN partly funds SLIDE, the primary sponsor of the program is the Kaslo community itself, holding book sales, and raffles, and applying for small grants from local agencies to raise additional funds. Volunteers also recruited family members and friends of all ages to promote the program at local Christmas markets and community events. They also partnered with librarians to create displays, make posters, answer questions, post to social media, and collect donations.

“One of our most generous supporters of this project, an independent bookstore called Otter Books in Nelson, BC, gave us 15% off all our program purchases. That’s a total savings of over $1,500.00!” says Elaine.

SLIDE’s most recent book donation was gifted to JV Humphries Elementary and Secondary schools to recognize Black History Month.

If you are interested in expanding your summer reading list, be sure to visit your local library for some of the SLIDE team’s favourite titles:

For Kids

For Youth

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? What are some of your recommendations? Share your thoughts with us on our social media on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information or to donate, email slidebookfundraiser@gmail.com or direct transfer to KSCU Kaslo 1654318.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn @debbiechowabc.

(Header Photo: SLIDE Program)