Merritt Secondary School has a new collection of indigenous books and literary resources, thanks to a partnership with the New Relationship Trust.

The New Relationship Trust is an independent non-profit that seeks to strengthen First Nations people and their communities by investing in five key areas: Governance capacity, Education, Language, Youth & Elders, and Economic development.

MSS English teacher Jenn Denton came across the Trust by accident while looking for a source of funding for a field trip she wanted to take her students on.

“I came across the New Relationship Trust and contacted them to see if they would be a good fit,” said Denton.

“They explained that they do not fund field trips, but I was welcome to put forth a grant application for First Nations resources. As an English teacher at MSS, I immediately thought of expanding the collection of literary resources for our students.”

Merritt has a strong indigenous culture and population, with five bands in the surrounding area, and many of the members attending or having attended MSS. Denton hopes that adding more indigenous content to the library’s shelves will help to develop a deeper understanding of First Nations traditions, cultures, languages and history.

“First Nations literature is rich and diverse,” said Denton.

“The additions to our collection will provide students with greater choice and exposure. We have expanded our collection with class novel sets, literature circle sets, and singular additions to our library. These include novels, graphic novels, recipe books, historical anthologies, cultural non-fiction and more.”

Denton added that the school also purchased a variety of texts “to support our Outdoor Education program.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, summer holidays and the fact that the order was not completely brought in until the end of June, students have not accessed the materials at school, however Denton notes that several teachers have added some of the new titles to their summer reading lists.