By: Vanessa Colantonio
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report was released in December of 2015 and it has been endorsed by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations along with a list of initiatives that Canadian libraries can take. Some of these include:
• Ensuring culturally, and age-appropriate collections are made available
• Providing culturally appropriate programming, involving parents and elders
• Forming staff working groups to focus on furthering reconciliation within the Library
• Adopting a formal statement acknowledging the Treaty, unceded and traditional territory on which the library sits
A more complete list is available on the Library’s Truth and Reconciliation resources page.
As a result of the TRC Report, in 2020, the Coquitlam Public Library Board mandated the forming of a Calls to Action Working Group made up of staff members. The Working Group’s purpose is to make sure that the Library addresses the Board’s Calls to Action mandates to:
• Work with local associations, community groups and city partners to provide culturally appropriate parenting programs for Indigenous families
• Seek out authentic partnerships with Indigenous communities and other community groups
• Recommend staff training
• Ensure culturally, and age-appropriate collections are made available
Over the past year, based on recommendation from our Calls to Action Working Group, the Library has done the following:
• Added the territorial acknowledgement to our email signatures and to our website
• Hosted an Indigenous art workshop with a member of SD43’s Indigenous Education department
• Hosted a number of virtual book talks with an Indigenous book theme
• Continued to commemorate both National Indigenous Day on June 21 and Orange Shirt Day on September 30 with themed book displays
• The staff wore orange shirts, held sheets of paper with a message supporting Orange Shirt Day and social media posts were made on September 30th
• Ran story times with an Indigenous theme
• Commissioned 37 new Indigenous art lamps for our City Centre branch; the designs for the lamps were created by Katzie First Nation artist Rain Pierre (sɬə́məxʷ) — in collaboration with Dusty Yurkin, a graphic designer who is also Katzie.
This year, the Library is working on a number of other Calls to Action initiatives. We are working to ensure that culturally, and age-appropriate collections are made available by augmenting our collection of books and other materials by Indigenous authors. We will soon be initiating staff training to ensure awareness of the inter-generational impact of residential schools and colonization. We will also be running a speaker series entitled Past and Present: A Conversation about Race in BC which kicks off in October and begins with Indigenous history with speakers from Kwikwetlem First Nation.
This year, on September 30, we will be commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day (now a federally mandated Statutory Holiday) by featuring an Orange Shirt Day story time, book displays and links to suggested reading lists on our website. City Centre branch will be open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Poirier branch will be closed.
Stay up to date on what the Library’s Calls to Action Working Group is doing by checking our Truth and Reconciliation resources page. There you can also find suggested TRC reading lists as well as links to educational and emotional support resources.
We acknowledge that Coquitlam Public Library provides service on the unceded traditional territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, which lies within the shared territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Squamish and Sto’:lo Nations.