Lethbridge library celebrates relationship with Indigenous community

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge library celebrates years of work building relationships with Indigenous populations'
Lethbridge library celebrates years of work building relationships with Indigenous populations
WATCH ABOVE: It's a relationship a century in the making. As the Lethbridge Public Library celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the facility is also honouring the significant strides made to connect with Indigenous communities. Demi Knight reports – Feb 19, 2019

2019 marks the Lethbridge Public Library’s 100th anniversary, and the theme for their centennial celebration, in part, is to honour the years spent building a strong relationship with the Indigenous community.

“I remember walking into their space and just seeing a table that outlined what Blackfoot territory is,” said Marcia Black Water, coordinator of Indigenous services with Lethbridge College, “and so really having that table then becomes a piece of learning.

“So just to bring in that Blackfoot perspective, I thought that was really something.”

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Over the years, the library has significantly expanded learning resources surrounding Indigenous culture by offering language classes, Indigenous story events, and a First Nations art club.

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The library has also recently opened the “Eagles Nest,” a dedicated Indigenous space, and has worked hard to expand their selection of Indigenous informational books.

“I think they’ve really at a community level made it accessible for all community members to access that kind of knowledge through their library and all of their resources,” Black Water said.

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Click to play video: 'International students showcase culture at University of Lethbridge ‘living library’'
International students showcase culture at University of Lethbridge ‘living library’

Beyond resources, however, the library has also been home to several Indigenous events over the years — the most recent being a traditional round dance held in the facility on Saturday.

“A round dance is a friendship dance,” said Tony Delaney, emcee for the event. “And so they wanted to do it to bring different people from the community together. It’s usually only seen on reserves, so bringing that here is good.”

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“It’s always been a central place for that kind of activity and a cornerstone in the cultural life of Lethbridge and the surrounding area,” added Aimee Benoit, curator with the Galt Museum.

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Moving forward, the library hopes to continue building relationships with the Indigenous community while remaining a hub for connections, information and activities.

The Lethbridge Public Library will also spend this year hosting different events to help celebrate and foster their existing ties within the community.

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