Nanaimo Correctional Centre

I'd like to share with you a couple of emails I received from Jennifer Ryper;
who teaches Language Arts and Alternative Education at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre.

The first email asking to share my words with the 200 men at the correctional faciltiy.
The second one after receiving the box of books I donated.

1st email

Hi. My name is Jennifer, and I happened across your website. I found it incredibly meaningful and inspiring.

I loved your artwork. Phenomenal. It "jumped off the page" for me - the vibrancy and all the life in it. I stayed at your site for a long while, and read much of the poetry you've written that was on it. I've also gone back to it since then. Thank you for sharing your work (paintings and poetry). It was incredibly meaningful to me. I found much hope, healing and wisdom on your pages. Thank you.

I'm also writing because I have a request.

I teach alternative education to adults (18+) at Nanaimo Correctional Center. This is one of many eductional options offered through our school district's Learning Alternatives program. I have many aboriginal students. There is a high percentage of aboriginal peoples in Corrections across Canada, and many of my students are working on their own healing. Your work is inspirational in that respect.

I'm currently working on integrating First Nations Literature (creating a completely FN version) into our Language Arts (Communications 12, English 12, and adult Literacy) courses. I like to provide my students with a variety of written material, and would like
to include some of your poetry. I think it would speak to many of my students.

I'm asking for your permission to make your poetry available to my students in Nanaimo Correctional Center. If I were teaching in an ordinary program, I would simply provide students with your website link, and allow them to explore your work. However, my students do not have access to the internet so I can't do that. I'm really hoping that you are open to this. I would love to be able to share your work with them, and have them be able to explore it. I would include your name and the information from your website as biographical information.

If you could let me know how you feel about me using your work in some of our coursework, I'd appreciate it.

Jennifer Ryper

2nd email

Hi LauraLee,

Your books arrived today.

Thank you so much. Thank you for all the additional copies. So appreciated. I gave one to my friend at the center, Dan Elliot, who works with the aboriginal inmates so it will be available in his room. He's the aboriginal liason (think that's his official title). Went and showed him after my teaching day was done, and we went back to your website again. I took a copy home for myself. Thank you. The remaining books will be spread throughout the center (classrooms and library).

Kind of funny...
I was at your site during my lunch break this afternoon, and checked my email. Yours was there so I went to check if the books had arrived this afternoon. They had.

I took the box down to my afternoon classroom, and opened it there...was very keen to check them out. Many of my students were as well.

Have one student who struggles to articulate in prose (formal style), but writes lyrics and poetry. I think sometimes the formal structure of language can hold people back. He's philosophical and a deep thinker. He spent the class going through your book. Was so incredibly awesome watching him go through it and so enjoying it. He smiled when I gave it to him, and told him to check it out. Later, when I checked in with how he was liking it - he was grinning. Thank you. The expression on his face, and in his eyes so showed that he'd found meaning in it...was so very very cool.

I'd found your website so incredibly meaningful (profound in a sacred way) - your art and your poetry, and was so very glad that he found the book meaningful, too. One of those moments that you treasure - as a teacher, and as a human being. Motivates me a teacher and a human being (lol) - reminds me of why I do what I do - littles bits that help others on their journeys and finding their way.

There were also others who came and shared what had special meaning for them in the book. Another responded by writing and showing me poetry of his own, and meaning he had...7 wisdoms, and 4 aspects of the medicine wheel - wrote a poetic response around what he was readingto what he was reading in your book. He ended up teaching me some of his language...

It was a seriously "cool" afternoon (for lack of a better term, and the fact that it's 7 pm and I'm tired - lol).

Thank you so much for posting your work on the internet, and for making it available for the men at NCC.

I'm sending this and not editing - hope there aren't any typos like last time. Lol.
Thanks again.

Jennifer Ryper
Senior Learning Alternatives, SD68
Nanaimo Correctional Centre