Nathan Gullison, a second-year native studies major at St. Thomas University, lived in a transition house with his mother for a short period of time while growing up in St. Stephen. Now, he’s funding to buy books for transition houses, group homes and youth homes.
“It wasn’t until I came to university and saw all the things that the people in these communities should know, that should be available to them, but just isn’t for whatever reason [and is] just completely disregarded in school too,” Gullison said.
As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference held at St. Thomas at the end of October, it was advertised the UNSDG committee would be giving funding to local initiatives that help support sustainable development goals.
“I saw that as an opportunity to do this thing that had been sitting at the back of my head for a long time,” Gullison said.
Gullison started a GoFundMe once funding from the UNSDG funding committee in Fredericton was finalized to get his idea off the ground.
“The GoFundMe is a step to make sure that we can sustain it for a long time,” Gullison said.
He wants to make what he calls the “book garden” come to life to counteract the the lack of education on political and historical events from the perspective of minority groups, including Indigenous peoples, women and non-white people in N.B.’s education system.
“That history is one that people are not given in school,” Gullison said. That’s the history he wants to make prominent in his project.
“There’s a lot of information out there that the country and the province we live in is designed to keep us from knowing. There’s a lot of things that aren’t really covered in school and aren’t talked about in the media either,” he said.
“I wanted to make that information known to the people that it matters to or should matter to, and so my solution was this.”
Gullison has developed a book wishlist of 16 titles, including 500 Years of Resistance, a comic book by Gord Hill about Indigenous histories and resistances in North and South America, Labor’s Untold Story by Richard O’Boyer and Herbert M. Morais and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
So far, he’s only been in contact with the Fundy Regional Transition House and Charlotte County Group Home in St. Stephen and the Women in Transition House in Fredericton.
He said seeing the project expand to the whole province would be a long-term goal, although it would be cool to see it expand across Canada too.
“I want to keep going with this and expand as much as I possibly can,” Gullison said.
“If it could become a national thing, that would be the best thing in the entire world for me, but only time will tell.”
In the meantime, he hopes to get lots of feedback from the people the books are being sent to.
“I’d like to see people getting excited about it and maybe inspiring activism in these communities as well … I’d like to see it inspire people as well,” he said.
“I’d like people to take some of the things that we’ve given to them and find inspiration in them in the same way I have.”
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