Red Deer City Councillor Dianne Wyntjes was the guest speaker at this year’s Adult Literacy Volunteer Appreciation social hosted by the Red Deer Public Library’s (RDPL) Annual Appreciation Night for Volunteers earlier this week.
According to her page on the City’s web site, Wyntjes is a reading enthusiast, reading a lot in her spare time.
She began her speech by thanking the leadership of the RDPL for their leadership, the staff and the volunteers for their support for literacy and adult learning.
She said through literacy initiatives one can empower personal growth to make healthy life choices, build life skills for relationships, parenting and health care decisions, among others.
She said through the RDPL Adult Literacy Program and other library initiatives, it opens the doors of reading, literacy and opportunity in the community.
“I hope along with your encouragement that you will recruit future literacy volunteers and learners in our community because that’s how we spread the wisdom and knowledge,” she said.
Wyntjes was elected to City council in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. In that time she has gotten to know members of the community on a regular basis, she said.
“As a councillor one becomes privileged to become aware of secrets and struggles in our community, and it’s not uncommon as you know that there are those who struggle with basic reading, writing and math skills.”
She said there are also those who struggle or have wrestled with their education and staying in school. There are also those, she said who are limited at their workplace for job promotional opportunities as their literacy is limited.
“Literacy means not only being able to read but the ability to read well, to process information, to solve problems, to give people access to information. Without it doors are closed for opportunities, for relationships and for a better life.”
Literacy, she said, is essential to making a difference in the community of Red Deer, and helping to eliminate poverty along with playing a significant role in reducing gender inequality.
“Literacy gives self-esteem, self-sufficiency and empowers one to change their lives, their own life and within our community,” she said.
Although Wyntjes has always been an avid reader, it wasn’t the case for one of her family members. When she was a young girl she would often spend time with her grandmother, and they had the typical grandmother-grandchild relationship.
Her grandmother was an immigrant to Canada.
“After my grandmother had passed away later in my life my mother shared with me her mother was unable to read and write.”
Wyntjes said her grandmother was embarrassed she couldn’t read. She also didn’t learn adequate number literacy, and took menial jobs throughout her life, never learning to be literate.
“As a young grandchild I never knew her struggles until my mother shared them. She hid them all her life.”
Wyntjes said we must reach out to those in our community and recognize those who are challenged with low literacy skills, and encourage them to come forward so the community can give them the support they need.