Creating Belonging at the Library

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In the year since Indigenous Service Design Lead, Teneya Gwin, joined the Library, she has made great progress towards creating more welcoming spaces and honouring the traditional knowledge of Indigenous people through programming and services for Library members of all ages.

The role was created to drive a system-changing Indigenous Strategy and facilitate the Library’s active role in Reconciliation. The first two years of the position was supported by Friends of the Library.

Since a key component of belonging is seeing your culture, history, language or art represented in your surroundings, donor funds have also supported critical work with the Indigenous Place Making Council to create a strong, visible Indigenous presence in the fabric of the Library. This work will include installations that embody Indigenous place making practices and traditions in the New Central Library.

“Igniting the Fire: Storying the Urban Warrior at the Library,” focuses on Indigenous Literacies and explores the value of oral and written traditions through Indigenous art, performance, creative writing, drama and storytelling. This free, non-credit university course is supported by Calgary Learns and delivered in partnership with St. Mary’s University. Cultural teachings are an important element of the curriculum, including songs, a drum circle, and smudging ceremonies. 

Last week, Calgary Public Library leadership participated in Cultural Awareness Training at the Tsuut’ina Nation. In addition to learning about First Nations Culture, the group was introduced to the Tsuut’ina history, ceremonial and traditional protocols, and enjoyed traditional foods. In addition to offering cultural training sessions for broader staff, this year will see the Library enhancing and expanding Indigenous services and programs and hiring more Indigenous support staff.