Monday, March 26, 2018

Indigenous Knowledge Centre, a Great Idea from Your Public Library

Your Thunder Bay Public Library is responding to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s calls to action in many ways.  We have made it part of our strategic plan and are taking action on many fronts. With the indispensible guidance of our Indigenous Liaison Robyn Medicine, and in consultation with the Indigenous Advisory Group and others from our community, we are building connections and relationships.

Some of the results of our sharing and thinking have been a series of successful and culturally relevant programming, collaboration with the NCTR and NFB with a series of films on the topic of reconciliation, hosting of an author visit with Tanya Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers and more.

Right now, we are in the process of developing Indigenous Knowledge Centres at each of your Library branches, starting with the Waverley Library.  We hope to launch these in June. These centres are meant to decolonize library spaces and classification (Dewey Decimal arrangement) and provide safe and accessible spaces with relevant Indigenous materials for all ages, educational elements such as copies of the Robinson-Superior Treaty, maps depicting pre-contact names and artistic works done by local Indigenous youth. 

Rather than having these materials strewn through the overall collection in various subject classifications, we are bringing everything together – books, newspapers, magazines, films , graphic novels and music and renaming the subjects to reflect the emphases of the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations.

One will find materials about treaties, reconciliation,  residential schools, contributions of the Indigenous and Métis people, art books, fiction, poetry and graphic novels by Indigenous creators and more in these centres.

Families can browse together because we have brought all formats and all age ranges into the one space.

Already we can see what a wealth of material had been “hidden” within our overall material collection. We are so fortunate as our Friends of the Library group have fund-raised and given us a substantial sum in order to develop the spaces and add new material.

 I have been enjoying the process of seeing it start to come together and keep finding more and more titles that I want to read. I’d like to share some of my favourites (to date) with you and also want to appeal to any and all Indigenous readers to share suggestions for titles which you would like to see in these Centres. Your contributions are both welcome and needed. Send your thoughts to

Just a sample of books that will be available for all ages at the Indigenous Knowledge Centres opening in June. Waverley Library will be the first but all the branches will have a centre.

as long as the river flows cover
Moonshot Volume 1 by various
A collection of graphic novel artists’ works showing the rich heritage of Indigenous storytelling.
As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie
A lovely story of the author’s last summer before he left for residential school where he and others were taken from their families to attend an institution which aimed to strip them of their language and culture. In picture book format for children (and all ages)

Peace Pipe Dreams : The Truth About Lies About Indians by Darrell Dennis
The author looks at interactions between settlers and Indigenous people in North America and deconstructs stereotypes and mistruths while providing accurate information. This is done with more than a little humour.

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