Tidemark and CR Literacy Gift Community with Free Family Event in Celebration of Literacy Week


The Tidemark Theatre and Campbell River Literacy Association have partnered once again to present their annual FREE family literacy event at the Tidemark in celebration of Family Literacy Week on January 26th.  “Family Literacy Week is the Campbell River Literacy Association and its community partner’s gift to the families of Campbell River,” says Kat Eddy, CRLA’s Executive Director. “All events are free and celebrate the parents of our city as their children’s first and best teachers.”

The 2020 theme for Family Literacy Week is: Let’s Read Together! “Reading together as a family is your child’s first introduction to reading.  Children love it when their families read with them, even when children can read on their own.  This time spent as a family creates a time to cuddle and love one another, deepens connections and builds imagination,” says Eddy. “There are so many ways to engage with your kids and build their learning some great examples are; telling stories, singing, silly rhymes, playing games and exploring outside.  All of these special times spent together help kids to learn about their world. “

The free literacy celebration for Campbell River families was made possible in part by donations from community members and local businesses such as, Greig Seafood to the Tidemark’s Theatre Angels Program.  “We have this incredible program called Theatre Angels,” Heidi Cuff, Tidemark’s Programming and Marketing Coordinator says, “and through it, we make tickets available to people and families in Campbell River with limited incomes to attend selected presentations throughout our season. This helps increase exposure to the arts and promotes inclusiveness of the theatre, as well as reaching youth and adults who wouldn’t necessarily have access to the arts otherwise.” In order to respect the anonymity of recipients, tickets are given to local non-profit, charitable organizations for distribution. The program, which has expanded every year since its inception, supports many different organizations and the communities they serve:  John Howard Society, Laichwiltach Family Life Society, Campbell River Hospice Society and the Immigrant Welcome Center – to name a few.

Last year, the Tidemark and CRLA partnered to present a free concert with CBC Kids star, Will’s Jams and tickets sold out in just a few weeks. “This is our small way of giving back to the community and everyone who has always helped and supported us,” says Cuff. “We have so much fun organizing this event and the community is so appreciative – we are thrilled that we have been able to turn it into an annual event.”

This year, award winning children’s author and storyteller, Michael Kusugak will be headlining the celebration. Kusugak grew up in Repulse Bay, a small village in the Northwest Territories. “I’ve always been close to the land, the sea and the animals,” he says. “I want to teach everything I know about how to live here and write about everything kids like to do.”

During his childhood, Michael’s family traveled by dog team; they lived in igloos in the winter and tents in the summer. He had no access to books as a child and didn’t speak a word of English until he was seven. “Every night, my grandma would tell us a story to put us to sleep,” he recalls. In 1954, a float plane whisked Michael off to a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet. “When you’re seven years old and hauled away from your parents, it’s very hard. I cried the whole year I was there—that’s all I remember. The following fall, when the airplane came again, I went and hid in the hills. I didn’t go to school that year.” Michael went on to become one of the first Inuit from the eastern Arctic to graduate from high school, piecing together his education in Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife, Churchill and Saskatoon.

While in school, Michael enjoyed writing stories and poems, but he never thought of becoming an author until he met Robert Munsch. “He stayed with us during Children’s Book Week once, and I told him all kinds of legends. He suggested that I write them down, so we worked on one together, and eventually it was published!” That story, A Promise is a Promise, is based on one of Michael’s childhood memories. He explains, “I take things that are native to me, such as the northern lights, and create a story around them.”

One of the most rewarding experiences for Michael is visiting children in schools and at libraries. He mesmerizes young audiences with narratives from his Arctic home and tales told with string. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, boating and looking out his study window at the northern landscape stretching towards the horizon.

Sponsored by the Campbell River Mirror, What’s On Digest and Greig Seafood, the Tidemark Theatre and Campbell River Literacy Association proudly present, Michael Kusugak in celebration of Family Literacy Week at the Tidemark Theatre on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 2pm.  Tickets are FREE and can be reserved at the Box Office Tuesday through Friday between 12pm and 4pm starting December 14th, 2018.  First come, first served.  Limit four per family with festival seating.

For the full schedule of free events during Family Literacy Week, be sure to follow the Campbell River Literacy Association on Facebook. For more information about the Tidemark’s Theatre Angels Program or to donate, please visit tidemarktheatre.com or call 287.PINK.