Alliance aims to improve treaty resources at Saskatchewan libraries
- NC Raine | November 01, 2018
A new strategic alliance has been signed in Saskatoon, uniting treaties and provincial libraries.
Implemented by the Saskatchewan Committee on Indigenous Library Services (SCILS), the treaty was signed Tuesday at Wanuskewin Heritage Park between 11 provincial of the Saskatchewan Provincial Public Library Systems and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC).
“Moving forward, proclaiming the message that ‘we are all treaty people’. That is what today is really about,” said SCILS Chairperson Ruth Baker.
The strategic alliance aims to improve the library services in Saskatchewan for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, developing practices to address barriers faced by Indigenous people accessing public library services. By joining this alliance, the public library system will provide treaty awareness and education to public library patrons, boards, trustees, and staff.
“We are in institutions and organizations where we can make real change,” said Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan. “Where we can work together to ensure that resources are there and treaty rights are being educated through all systems. Not just through our schools and not just in general public, but through our libraries and through our resources.”
As a result of the alliance, the OTC will provide a variety of free sessions, workshops, and discussions over the Treaty Commissioner’s term. The Saskatchewan Public Libraries will provide space, audience, and promotion of these OTC led events, and the SCILS will oversee activities outlined in the draft implementation plan, as well as develop and administer program evaluation, and collect statistics.
Signatories expressed their hope in the change in treaty awareness that the alliance could spark.
“Maybe in 20 years, in ten years, in five years, there will be a time where people won’t remember that there [weren’t] treaty resources, and that there wasn’t access to culturally responsive and relevant resources in our libraries,” said Culbertson.
The 11 public library systems participating in the alliance include three municipal library systems serving the cities of Prince Albert, Regina, and Saskatoon; seven regional library systems serving the regions and area of Swift Current, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Weyburn, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon, and one federation of northern libraries serving the Northern administration district.
“An agreement like this will allow us to keep working for the generations going forward to provide universal, equitable library services to everyone in Saskatchewan,” said James Hope Howard, Director of Pahkisimon Nuyeʔah Library System.
A statement by the Saskatchewan Public Library System reads, “treaty knowledge is important for students to better appreciate the province’s past and present. Learning about Treaties promotes cultural appreciation and understanding through teachings that respect and honour First Nations.”