Award-winning authors mentor Saskatoon high school students

First Book Canada and RBC bring Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers to Saskatoon High School in SPEAK UP! Mentorship Program

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (March 14, 2018) – On Thursday, March 8th, award-winning authors Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers visited Bedford Road Collegiate as part of a high school mentorship program initiated by First Book Canada and supported by the RBC Foundation. Fifty grade 12 students received advice from Martel and Kuipers about their experiences as writers and how they found their way through the arts after graduation. The students can also reach Martel and Kuipers via email, extending their mentorship until graduation. Each student received a brand new signed copy of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Alice Kuipers Me and Me to take home. This program is generously supported by the RBC Foundation.

“From the choice of the authors to the online support from First Book Canada, it was truly a wonderful experience. Staff and students loved the authors, loved the books, and loved the opportunity to speak with two amazing authors,” said Jacqueline Helman, teacher-librarian at Bedford Road Collegiate.

“We had a wonderful session with students at Bedford Road Collegiate. We talked about our journeys to become writers, the rejection and frustration along the way, and the projects we are writing now. The students were amazing–smart, curious, attentive and open. We particularly like the opportunity to connect with these students as mentors, giving them advice and ideas about their futures. Thank you so much First Book Canada and RBC for making this superb event happen,” said Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers.

This program emphasizes success through a combination of financial literacy and enriched reading skills, with the benefit of mentorship from Martel and Kuipers. The students will also have the opportunity to engage with local RBC employees who will share tips and advice on financial literacy.

“When we created the SPEAK UP program with RBC, we had very high hopes when it came to the authors/speakers we would be able to attract as mentors for senior high school students,” said Tom Best, Executive Director of First Book Canada. “Having both Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers speak with the grade 12 students at this high school in Saskatoon is simply magnificent, exceeding even the highest hopes we ever had for this program.”


YANN MARTEL is the author of Life of Pi, the #1 international bestseller published in 58 territories that has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, won the 2002 Man Booker (among many other prizes), spent more than a year on Canadian and international bestseller lists, and was adapted to the screen in an Oscar-winning film by Ang Lee. He is also the award-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki RoccamatiosSelfBeatrice & Virgil, and a book of recommended reading: 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. He lives in Saskatoon with the writer Alice Kuipers and their four children.

ALICE KUIPERS has published seven books for teens and children, with three more upcoming. She has had stories and essays published and produced and she has blogged for Today’s Parent and for The Huffington Post. Alice’s work is published in 34 countries. She has four children. Find her free writing tips and course here:

About First Book Canada

First Book Canada provides new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. By making new, high quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book Canada is transforming the lives of children and elevating the quality of education in the country. Since 2009, First Book Canada has distributed over 6 million new books to hundreds of thousands of children in need across Canada. For more information, or to register for books, visit us at and follow our latest news on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:

Tom Best, Executive Director, First Book Canada
866.732.3669 ext. 0130