New textbook will celebrate Prairie culture

By Kelli Corscadden
SNN News Editor
Windthorst, Saskatchewan

Students in Saskatchewan will soon have an all-Saskatchewan literary anthology that they can read as part of their English Language Arts and Canadian Studies courses.

To kick off Education Week, which ran from October 18-22, the plans for this new resource were introduced. Saskatchewan Education Minister, Jim Melenchuk, is hoping that the anthology will be available to students and teachers as soon as December 2000.

"I am pleased to announce Saskatchewan Education's support for an educational resource. By reflecting prairie and northern Saskatchewan perspectives, the works contained in the anthology will be relevant and accesible to students," says Melenchuk.

This new curriculum resource will include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, and visual art works. The literary works will be both historical and contemporary.

When the anthology started in the minds of the people at Saskatchewan Education and the Saskatchewan Publishers Group, part of the plan was to include at least 25 percent of Aboriginal material. This will give Saskatchewan students a better outlook on their diverse culture and heritage. It will provide an adequate range of material by reflecting the voice of all cultures in the province.

Coteau Books, based in Regina, is the publishing company that was chosen for this project. Their proposal was one out of many that came from other publishing companies. Coteau Books is starting to call for submissions from all Saskatchewan authors and artists. They will then assemble the book that will focus on the project's founding principle of bringing together the
voices of Saskatchewan and prairie writers to readers here and beyond.

Unfortunately, these works will not be mandatory reading in Saskatchewan. It will serve as an optional resource on the bibliography of recommended reading received by teachers.

"Much of the current curriculum does not give the range and still meet the (curriculum standards) guide. This anthology will be an excellent source of Saskatchewan curriculum," says Nik Burton of Coteau Books.

This anthology will, hopefully, strengthen the pride of Saskatchewan students. Teaching students more about their own province and their roots is long past due.

Coteau publisher and Saskatchewan author Geoffrey Ursell says, "It is important to bring these literary voices to the young people who will be the teachers, decision makers, and book readers of tomorrow."