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Human Library Visits John Pritchard


John Pritchard School was a busy place on February 9. Not only was it I Love to Read Month, but the school had 20 guests visiting, including two adorable dogs, Rosie and Marion, who were bound to attract a lot of attention. 

All of these guests were part of what the school’s teacher librarian, Liz Loewen, calls a “human library.” A human library allows readers to borrow human beings who serve as open books, having conversations they may not normally have access to. This year’s theme was Windows and Mirrors. 

“I invite these guests for a number of reasons,” says Ms. Loewen. “I feel their title is just a small part of it. I always try to welcome an eclectic group that the students can see themselves in, the mirrors, and can also see how others live, through the windows.”

When Chief Smyth visited, he observed that the student body at John Pritchard was a very diverse group. He shared that he was initially rejected by the police because he was considered too short, but now they are far more open to diversity and hire people of all kinds. 

Mitch Bourbonierre, from the Bear Clan, described life on the street and offered ways that motivated students could help the organization. Now, many John Pritchard students are interested in holding a mitten drive next fall to provide some warmth to people experiencing homelessness.

Some planning has already started for next year’s event. Ms. Loewen says the staff at John Pritchard are a great team to work with in making this all come together.

Photo: (Front row, left to right) Doug Speirs, author; Richard Beinert, rock enthusiast; Al Simmons, children’s entertainer; Terri Apostle, TV personality; Maralee Caruso, news anchor; Colleen Bready, weather specialist; Karly Tardiff, Dream Factory; Jackie Martin, reading tutor with therapy dog, Rosie; Hannah Guttormson, seeing-eye-dog trainer, Tracy Garbutt, CNIB, with dog, Marion. (Back row, left to right) Chief Danny Smyth, Winnipeg Police; Liz Loewen, teacher librarian; Constable George Labossiere, Winnipeg Police; Mitch Bourbonniere, Bear Clan; Meghan Malcolm, Willow Press; Big Daddy Tazz, comedian; Junel Malapad, ultramarathon runner and philanthropist; Sheena Grobb, musician; Jordan Van Sewell, pottery artist.

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