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Established in Calgary in 2004, ICE is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy and cross-cultural education, at home and abroad. Our current priority is to donate high quality illustrated books featuring stories from the Middle East and Central Asia to literacy programs serving children in need.


Our literacy focus grew from a survey we conducted in 2004 in which we learned that Canadian literacy programs for disadvantaged children suffer from a severe and ongoing shortage of high quality books. Current requests from our Canadian partners reveal a need for at least 50,000 books annually.


In 2010 ICE began distributing Dari-Pashto editions of the same books to schools, orphanages and NGOs in desperate need in Afghanistan.


In just 15 years, ICE has donated 250,500 books to children free of charge. We've given 133,400 books to Canadian children in need with help from over 80 Canadian non-profit literacy groups; 115,960 books to Afghan children assisted by 8 Afghan partner organizations and 1140 books to Mexican children through our partner there.


Volunteer in Surrey loading books by Afghan author Idries Shah for children's literacy

ICE volunteers in Surrey, BC packing books to send to partner organizations


Thank you letter from Frontier College

Nov 5, 2019


The YUKON LITERACY COALITION thanks ICE for their continued partnership and book donations. The most recent title, Neem the Half-Boy, is being used in a variety of ways.

Yukon Literacy Coalition
Nov 3, 2019


Uzbeki editions just donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan).
Thanks to Hoopoe Books and The Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange, for the first time, CW4WAfghan will receive 100 copies each of four titles in Uzbeki-Dari, to be distributed to literacy classes in Takhar.

Hoopoe Uzbeki Books
Nov 1, 2019


The SASKATCHEWAN LITERACY NETWORK thanks ICE for the donation of 1000 copies of Neem the Half-Boy.

Saskachewan Literacy Network
Oct 31, 2019


Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Mothers check out Hoopoe Books donated by ICE and just distributed in Afghanistan by CW4WAfghan in support of family literacy.

EFTO Humanity Fund

Oct 17, 2019


DRAGONS . . . of Playdough
One of our teachers sent in the following note, with the images attached:
“We read the book "Neem the Half-Boy" to the children. We talked about dragons. We described how a dragon looks. The children then created their own dragons with playdough.”
Thank you for your support!
April MacDonald Killins, Manager: Community Resilience & Innovation ABC Head Start Society

EFTO Humanity Fund

Oct 9, 2019



Here’s a brand new article by children’s author Margriet Ruurs about The Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange, our National Director and Hoopoe Books in the Fall Edition of Canadian Teacher Magazine. Aubrey Davis is the Canadian author of such popular books as Bagels from Benny, Bone Button Borscht & The Enormous Potato. As a storyteller, he knows what makes a good story work & how spellbinding folktales can be. Aubrey learned about storytelling when he traveled across Europe & North Africa as a young man. Here he discovered traditional Teaching-Stories collected by the Afghan writer and educator, Idries Shah

EFTO Humanity Fund

Photo: M. Wesa, Pen Path Civil Society
Sep 21, 2019


ABC Head Start Society of Edmonton thanks ICE for the donation of books to 500 children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.


Sep 13, 2019


ICE Receives a Humanity Fund Grant from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

Thank you very much for your request that the ETFO Humanity Fund support your distribution of one Hoopoe title in five minority languages (Uzbeki, Hazaragi, Munji, Turkmeni and Shughni) to schools, NGOs, orphanages and other organizations. The ETFO Humanity Fund Board of Directors met last week and voted to support your work in Afghanistan with a donation of $6,000.00. The cheque will be issued within the next month and sent to you directly. The ETFO Humanity Fund is proud to support your dedication to promoting children's literacy and cross-cultural education and we look forward to hearing from you about the project.

Best wishes,
Sam Hammond
Chair, ETFO Humanity Fund

EFTO Humanity Fund

Jun 21, 2019


Thank you to the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange for donating some children’s books to the Immigrant Welcome Centre of North Vancouver Island! We are very appreciative of your support and your act of "Local Love"!


Jun 12, 2019


We are deeply grateful to our tireless team of volunteers who just packed, labeled and shipped Neem the Half-Boy by Idries Shah for 29 partner literacy organizations and the 13,300 Canadian children they serve.

ICE book packaging ICE book packaging ICE book packaging ICE book packaging ICE book packaging

May 2, 2019


With our recent donation of 12,000 Pashto-Pashai bilingual books to SIL, ICE has now donated over 1/4 million books! SIL serves language communities worldwide, building their capacity for sustainable language development. A huge thank you to all our donors, volunteers and friends.
Apr 15, 2019


Thousands more Afghan children will receive Hoopoe books in their first language (Uzbeki, Hazaragi, Munji, Turkmeni and Shughni) thanks to an International Development Grant to the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange from Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism. “Research has shown that children’s first language is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school." UNESCO 2008

Panjsher Province

Nov 6, 2018

These girls’ smiles reflect our gratitude for a generous donation from the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario. Thanks to them, 4800 Afghan children in Panjsher Province have received their own copies of Hoopoe Books to read and cherish with their families. The books were printed by Dr. Farid Bazger of Khatiz Organization and distributed by our Afghan partners, Attaullah and Matiullah Wesa of Pen Path Civil Society.

Panjsher Province

Panjsher Province Panjsher Province
July 5, 2018


"The Saskatchewan Literacy Network is very grateful for the 800 copies of The Farmer's Wife that we received from the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange. We were pleased to share these books with literacy organizations & events all across Saskatchewan. We..heard a story from one of our partners. They had a celebration ...and all the children were invited to choose books to take home.... several newcomer families recently from Sytria, were present.... almost all of the children of those families....quickly chose The Farmer's Wife. They were excited to see a book with someone on the cover who looked like people in their families, and they proudly showed their families what they chose. Without your donatation, this wonderful opportunity for children to find books that they could easily identify with, and for any of the children to experience a story from a culture that may be different than their own, would not have been possible." Sincerely, Phaedra Hitchings, Executive Director. (See complete letter here:)
Feb 16, 2018


"When I saw the smiles on their faces, I realized that the books made a real difference to the children, their families and educators...Thank you again for the wonderful books and the generous donation." Blessings... Elsa Ngan, Family Literacy & Adult Learning Program Coordinator, ASSIST Community Services Centre, Edmonton Alberta. (See photos below.)

Farmer's Wife - ASSIST Community Services, Edmonton, Alberta

Farmer's Wife - ASSIST Community Services, Edmonton, Alberta

Farmer's Wife - ASSIST Community Services, Edmonton, Alberta

Jan 31, 2018


JonArno Lawson is a Toronto children’s author who is a Governor General’s Award Winner & four-time winner of the Lion & the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry.
In this video he discusses ICE, an all-volunteer Canadian literacy organization, the children they help and the unique qualities of the books they donate to Canadian, Afghan & Mexican children in need.
Oct 16, 2017        


“During our kindergarten immunization clinics… each pre-kindergarten student was given a brand new book to take home with them… we received rave reviews from families and nurses alike…the younger sister of one of the little girls I’d immunized the week before….entered my office & her face lit up.. ‘I saw you last week! Do you have another book for me?’ The books, not the needles, were this little girl’s lasting memory of our appointment.”
Read the entire letter here.
Lynne Reside Early Years Community Development Manager Success by 6/Children First BC: North Okanagan, Columbia , Shuswap Region
June 26, 2017       


We couldn't help so many Afghan children without our wonderful donors and supporters. Thanks to you, we were able to send 21,000 Hoopoe books in January 2017 to Afghan Mobile Mini Circus who distributed them to children in Kabul and Nangarhar provinces.
April 5, 2017       


Volunteer loading books by Afghan author Idries Shah for children's literacy

Afghan Mobile Mini Circus distributing books to children in Kabul and Nangarhar provinces


In January 2017, we delivered 12,500 copies of The Farmers Wife by Idries Shah to 27 literacy organizations serving children across Canada. HUGE THANK YOU’S to Key Food Equipment Services for generously donating their warehouse space & to volunteers Stephanie Bogaert, Anthony Fuller, Ben Fuller, Tess Fuller & Shawn Fuller who stickered and labelled all those books for shipping. (See picture below.) “When I saw the smiles on their faces, I realized that the books made a real difference to the children, their families & educators.” Elsa Ngan, Family Literacy & Adult Learning Program Coordinator, ASSIST Community Services Centre Edmonton Alberta.
Feb 9, 2017       


Volunteer loading books by Afghan author Idries Shah for children's literacy

January 2017
ICE volunteers in BC packing
"The Farmer's Wife" to send to partner organizations


We’ve posted three new Youtube videos below featuring author Tahir Shah who was in Toronto last spring for the storytelling festival. Tahir discusses the unique qualities and uses of stories collected by his father, Idries Shah and how they can help develop Afghan children and their country.
Tahir Shah 1 Children’s stories as instruction manuals to the world
Tahir Shah 2 Repatriating Afghan Stories to Afghan Children
Tahir Shah 3 Stories as an ancient psychological framework
Oct 4, 2016       



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  Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange - ICE/
  Institut d'échanges interculturels - IEI
9 - 4335 W 10th Ave.
  Vancouver, BC  V6R 2H6  Canada
  Tel:  888.422.0280

  Charitable Registration Number
86260 1077 RR0001