Round Prairie Métis honoured by Library
- EFN Staff | January 20, 2017
It was a proud day of recognition for Round Prairie Métis descendants as they marked the grand opening of the Round Prairie Branch of the Saskatoon Public Library family. A wide range of activities began in the morning with greetings from dignitaries and heartfelt words of pride and thanks from members of the Métis families that lived and worked on the land that the new library now resides.
Senator Nora Cummings recalled the time of the road allowance and coming to this area with her father to hunt, snare, pick berries and cut grass for the farmers during the summers in order to earn a living. With a smile, she remarks that it feels very fitting to “be on Hunter Avenue today, when we were the hunters here not so long ago.”
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For Nora, the significance of the name is a tribute to the legacy of the life that the descendants of the Round Prairie Métis have left for all Métis people. “It is an honour for all Métis people in Saskatoon. This is just the beginning of what we can be doing to be recognized in our community. We have our own identity, culture, stories. We want to make sure we are seen in the community, and have our children see us here. We want them to be proud of who we (they) are.” Senator Cummings shared her excitement for her family to see this grand opening happen and offered thanks to the people who worked so hard to make the branch a reality.
One of those people was May Henderson, who played a key role in bringing the name forward to the committee for consideration after being asked to sit in as a representative. “I feel so strongly that it is time the Métis are recognized. The new library was being developed on Round Prairie land, why not call it the Round Prairie Library?” May took the initiative to act. “I spoke with community leaders, the descendants and went from there.”
The result is an inclusive, modern new library facility that features an Innovation Lab, Video Game Room, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) checkout system and Google Chromebooks that patrons can use while in the library. Carol Cooley, Director of Libraries and CEO for SPL appreciated hearing the enthusiasm that the Métis descendants expressed and how honoured they feel. “The name seemed like a natural step to take to honour the Métis. This branch will serve to build a better understanding of the history of Round Prairie and what it means to the community. Going forward, SPL will focus on First Nations and Métis culture in all of our branches.”
President of CUMFI Shirley Isbister brought a message of inclusion and connection to the grand opening. Making mention of a strong relationship with local First Nations people and the community of Whitecap Dakota, she suggests how important it is that “we acknowledge where we come from.” She suggests that the ability to research genealogy should be made accessible to everyone through local libraries. Shirley’s father was born at Round Prairie. She too recalled going for drives out to the area to pick seneca root and berries. “This is about all descendants all over the world who contribute to education, employment, business, and the pride we have in our culture. The Round Prairie branch is a step towards acknowledgment of how Métis people have our own culture, history and what a proud contribution we can make to the community.”
The Round Prairie Branch is SPL’s ninth library and is located at 170 – 250 Hunter Road in Saskatoon.