Library Moments: First Nations Public Library Week

first nations public library weekBessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

First Nations Public Library Week is February 8-13. Since 2000, First Nations Public Libraries have used one week every February to raise awareness of their resources, services, programs and activities.  In First Nation communities, this week is not only an opportunity to promote public library services, but it also celebrates cultural uniqueness through creative library programming.  All Ontario libraries are encouraged to join in its celebration, First Nations Public Library Week is an event that can be enjoyed by library patrons and community members across the province.  All the branches of Haliburton County Public Library have highlighted First Nations writers, visit your local branch and try one out.

In honour of First Nations Public Library week, Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about something in the library involving the creative effort of someone who identifies as being from a First Nations culture.

peace pipe dreamsSherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Darrell Dennis is a stereotype-busting, politically incorrect Native American/Aboriginal/Shuswap (Only he’s allowed to call himself an “Indian.” Maybe. Under some circumstances). In Peace Pipe Dreams: the truth about lies about Indians, Dennis untangles some of the truths and myths about First Nations: Why do people think Natives get free trucks, and why didn’t he ever get one? Why does the length of your hair determine whether you’re good or bad? By what ratio does the amount of rain in a year depend on the amount of cactus liquor you consume? In addition to answering these burning questions, Dennis tackles some tougher subjects. He looks at European-Native interactions in North America from the moment of first contact, discussing the fur trade, treaty-signing and the implementation of residential schools. Addressing misconceptions still widely believed today, Dennis explains why Native people aren’t genetically any more predisposed to become alcoholics than Caucasians; that Native religion doesn’t consist of worshipping rocks, disappearing into thin air, or conversing with animals; and that tax exemptions are so limited and confusing that many people don’t even bother. Employing pop culture examples, personal anecdote and a cutting wit, Darrell Dennis deftly weaves history with current events to entertain, inform and provide a convincing, readable overview of First Nations issues and why they matter today.

TRANSAMERICA, Graham Greene, 2005, ©IFC Films

Graham Greene in Transamerica 2005, ©IFC Films

Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: When you think of an actor who has been in just about everything, many think of Steve Buscemi – that ubiquitous character actor who played “the funny looking one” in Fargo. But for me, even more than Buscemi, I think of Canadian actor Graham Greene – not to be confused with the English author of the same name. An Oneida born in Ohsweken, Ontario on the Six Nations reserve, Graham Greene is still possibly best known for his Oscar nominated role in Dances with Wolves. However, with 142 film and television acting credits to his name – and that’s not including theatre – Greene is an instantly recognizable face in the entertainment landscape during a time where Aboriginal Canadian and American actors struggle to find adequate representation on stage and screen. He has played a wide variety of roles, including Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at the Stratford Festival. He has an extensive list of Hollywood film appearances, including The Green Mile, New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 2 of the Twilight Saga, Transamerica, Maverick, Casino Jack, and Winter’s Tale – all of which are available at HCPL. Greene is perhaps the most well known Aboriginal actor in the world, has millions of fans, and has been appointed to the Order of Canada, our country’s highest civilian honour.

motorcycles and sweetgrassBessie Sullivan, County Librarian:  An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations, Drew Hayden Taylor wrote Motorcycles & Sweetgrass in 2010.  It is a story of magic, family, a mysterious stranger . . . and a band of marauding raccoons.  Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down. Maggie, the Reserve’s chief, is swept off her feet, but Virgil, her teenage son, is less than enchanted. Suspicious of the stranger’s intentions, he teams up with his uncle Wayne – a master of aboriginal martial arts – to drive the stranger from the Reserve. And it turns out that the raccoons are willing to lend a hand.

On Library Moments we often talk about Empathy and how reading about other experiences can allow us to see things from other people’s perspectives. Hopefully by celebrating First Nations Public Library Week we can learn more about the unique challenges of First Nations people and communities. Thank you for listening to Library Moments here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, February 7th – 13th, 2016.


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