By Christine Chua
MISSISSAUGA — Mississauga-born sisters Julia and Emma Mogus have been spreading their love of reading to First Nations communities in Ontario since 2012.
Founders of Books with no Bounds, the girls, who now live in Oakville, work to ship books and school supplies to those in need.
Julia, 16, and Emma, 15, were inspired by a report they found relating the amount of books children read to their overall success in school. Using only the money they received as birthday and Christmas gifts, they scoured second-hand stores and accumulated over 300 books, all nearly brand new and mostly hard cover, to donate to children who had no access to books.
While Emma was working as a page at Queen's Park, she learned about the LG Summer Book Drive for Aboriginal Youth. After inquiring about it, the girls were shocked to find out the drive was cancelled, with no plans to continue.
So, they decided to ship the books themselves.
Their first shipment, in September 2012, saw 6,000 books shipped to First Nations communities in Ontario, after which they began receiving letters from Chiefs, First Nations children and teens, teachers and principals thanking them for the books and asking for more.
They also received e-mail requests from other First Nations communities, both in Ontario and Manitoba, as well as from orphanages in Uganda and Ghana. The girls made a point to say yes to everyone.
Currently, they take donations and receive help from various schools at the Peel District School Board, including Glenforest Secondary School, whose International Baccalaureate Student League club helped collect and package in-demand books in early December.
"Something as simple as a book can truly make a difference in the lives of children living in our own backyard," said Emma.
Through their research before shipping, the sisters learned that First Nations students receive an average of 30 per cent less per student than students in local communities. As well, First Nations communities do not have public libraries.
"Our work not only involves putting books into the hands of First Nations children, but advocating for equality as well," said Emma. "We send books where there is a need and work tirelessly to advocate for equal rights, equal funding to all children in Canada."