Ontario celebrates First Nation libraries.
Love to read? First Nations Public Library Week was held from Feb, 14 to Feb. 19. The theme for 2005 was Proud Past, Proud Future @ your library.
Winter is the traditional storytelling time, and this special week let First Nations public libraries tell their own story--what services and resources they offer and how they contribute to the community. Library workers--as ""knowledge keepers and gatherers" says the First Nations Public Libraries Week proclamation--and the libraries have a vital role to play in First Nations communities. If you need information on employment, health or housing, your public library can help you find what you are looking for.
While each library plans its own activities geared to its community, all the libraries take part in First Nations Communities Read. A six-member panel selects one book that all libraries offer through public readings and other activities. For 2005, the chosen book was SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, a member of the Bear Clan of the Nishinawbe Ojibwa. Waboose used her own childhood experiences to tell the story of a nighttime walk in the woods by two young sisters eager to see the Aurora Borealis. Each First Nations public library in Ontario has received a copy of SkySisters courtesy of Kids Can Press.
Patricia Squires is with the public library on Serpent River First Nation. Last year during First Nations Public Library Week 72 people in the community read the book chosen for the First Nation Communities Read program, Solomon's Tree, inspired by Tsimpshian master carver Victor Reece, written by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Janet Wilson and published by Orca Book Publishers. This year, she's hoping that number grows to 100.
Everyone who reads SkySisters gets their name on a wall of fame and a ticket to a draw for a free copy.
"I have four copies of the book, and I carry one around with me," Squires said. She's already read it to a number of diverse audiences, from Elders to children in daycare. The library also held a storytelling session on Feb. 18 and, in keeping with the "Proud Past," theme, also celebrated the opening of its history section featuring family trees.
Non-Native public libraries are also given a chance to participate in First Nations Public Library Week. The Ontario Library Association supports the week by mailing 10 large and small posters to all First Nation public libraries, and one of the large posters to all other Ontario libraries. Mnjikaning First Nation public library was the location for the photo shoot for this year's poster.
This year, as in 2004, First Nations Public Library Week shared its resources (the theme and poster) with the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples' Committee for its Aboriginal Storytelling Week, held from Feb. 7 to 12.