Library Moments: First Nations Library Week

Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Erin Kernohan-Berning 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 13-18. Since 2000, First Nation 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. Many of 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, Bessie Sullivan 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.

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Eden Robinson is the author of Monkey Beach that was published in 2000 and was shortlisted for the Giller prize. Her new novel Son of a Trickster comes out this month. His grandmother calls him the son of a Trickster but Jared doesn’t know why. Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the pothead kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Despite these disadvantages Jared is also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people. Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can’t rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only 16, but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life. But he struggles to keep everything afloat… and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. However, she might have a point; ravens speak to him – even when he’s not stoned. Robinson does a beautiful job representing cultural and spiritual nuance and at the same time being realistic about the fact that we all have demons.

Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In The Break by Katherena Vermette, when Stella, a young mother, looks out her window and sees someone in trouble in the barren, snow swept field outside, she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. What follows is a patchwork of shifting narratives, people who are directly and indirectly connected to the victim and their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. The social worker grappling with a break-up. The artist mourning the death of her sister. The single mother struggling with trust in a new relationship. The homeless teenager just released from youth detention. The Métis police officer feeling caught between two worlds as he patrols Winnipeg’s North End.

The Break by Katherena Vermette is one of 2017’s Evergreen Award selections, part of the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading. Read one or more books through the year and vote for your favourite in September.

These are just two novels by indigenous writers, and we have many more in our collection. We are also happy to take suggestions if you know of an indigenous writer whose work we don’t have. By reading books by indigenous writers, we not only gain an understanding of their specific culture, but a better understanding of Canadian culture as a whole.

That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 CANOE FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM.

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