It’s hard to believe but this year is the 20th anniversary of First Nations Public Library Week, running from Oct. 4-10. It also coincides with Canadian Library month and it’s intended to raise aware of the resources, services, programs and activities of the 46 public libraries on First Nations in Ontario.
This year’s theme is “celebrating diversity” and it ties in perfectly with our strategic objective “cultivate diversity and inclusion”. We have a lot to offer you in the way of diverse and inclusive collections, programs and services, so here we go.
This month marks the two year anniversary of the grand opening of our Indigenous Knowledge Centres at all four branches. Learners of all ages will find information on key subject areas and themes identified by our Indigenous community as being relevant for retaining and sharing. It includes material in all formats: books, audio books, music cds, and dvds. If you were in the library before we closed you will have noticed that we have separated the children’s material into its own “juvenile IKC” collection in the children’s areas. Use the keyword “Indigenous collection” to browse items in the online catalogue and place your holds. If you need a library card send us an email with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also built Indigenous-themed ebook and eaudiobook collections in cloudLibrary. In addition to the existing Mazina’iganan and oshkiniigii shelves you will find past and present shortlist and winners of the First Nations Community Reads titles that are available in e-format.
We have a rich web site of Indigenous resources, aptly named Indigenous Resources (tbpl.ca/indigenousresources). There you’ll find links to pages on Indigenous Culture, History, Literature, News and Organizations. Also found here is a link to our Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) which helps guide and support the Library’s ongoing decolonization and reconciliation efforts through meaningful discussion at the consultation meetings. See tbpl.ca/iac for details.
In-person programming is on hold right now but we have held The Maker’s Path craft series film screening, sharing circles, a book club, poetry readings and special speakers and have incorporated diverse stories in our regular children’s programs. We are looking into starting another book club which will be meeting online, details coming soon.
It was just over a year ago, in August 2019, that we celebrated the grand opening of our partner AETS (Anishinabek Employment and Training Services, aets.org) who operate out of the Waverley library and provide job development and life skills support to member First Nations.
Another big celebration brought to you last September by the IAC and library staff was the Maawandoo’itiwin Language Gathering, in recognition of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
It seems so long ago now but on Feb. 21, 2020 we held the first International Mother Language Day celebration at the library.
We also participate in the annual National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21 and most recently Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.
As you can see we have – and do – a lot and we also like to celebrate a lot! Check out the activities that the First Nations Public Library Week organizers are providing through their web site at fnplw.olsn.ca. We have a link to it on our Indigenous Resources page as well.
Sylvia Renaud – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column we would love to hear from you.