Peterborough Public Library to be recognized as Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Space

The Peterborough Public Library will be the first public library to be recognized as a Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Space.

The Peterborough Public Library will be the first public library to be recognized as a Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Space.

According to the fund, Legacy Spaces are deemed sites that are safe and welcoming that encourage and support conversations and education about Indigenous history. The spaces are also to serve as symbols and reminders of the work needed to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund aims to raise cultural awareness, education to reach reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The late musician Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, and his brother Mike created the fund which is named after the 12-year-old First Nations boy who died in 1966 after fleeing a residential school in Kenora, Ont., attempting to walk 600 kilometres home to Ogoki Post.

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The library will celebrate the opening of its Legacy Space on May 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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“The library is a busy community hub dedicated to curiosity, discovery and learning,” said CEO Jennifer Jones.

“We’re proud to welcome everyone into the space, to learn about Indigenous history, and take actions toward reconciliation.”

The library will offer updates on its social media sites on the progress of the space. Jones said over the next five years the library is committed to providing programs, collections and services to support the community in truth and reconciliation learning and action.

The first initiative in addition to creating this Legacy Space is to update the Indigenous collection with new labels and to ensure the library is making space for Indigenous voices and stories.

The library is partnering with a number of organizations including the United Way Peterborough and District, the Trent University Faculty Association (TUFA), Kawartha Pine Ridge ETFO Teachers, CUPE 3908 – Trent University Contract and Student Academic Workers, the Peterborough and District Labour Council, the PVNCOECTA – Catholic Teachers Union, OPSEU Local 365 – Trent University support staff union and OPSEU Local 327 – Peterborough health unit workers.

“The United Way Peterborough and District is proud to be partnering in bringing a Legacy Space to our community,” said CEO Jim Russell. “Peterborough Public Library is already a place for all community members to learn, and the addition of a Legacy Space provides us with a location to grow in our shared reconciliation journey.”

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Marcus Harvey, executive director of TUFA, values the role that labour can play in the work of reconciliation.

“Trent University’s longstanding commitment to Indigenous knowledges may explain why Trent’s unions would get involved in this project from the outset,” Harvey said. “But this is an exercise in solidarity that fits beautifully with the broader labour community’s vision for social justice in Nogojiwanong.”

Mitch Champagne, president of CUPE 3908, said the Legacy Space is a “positive step” for Peterborough.

“As we work towards reconciliation, words ring hollow when they are not supported by actions,” he said. “The Legacy Space will provide the people of Nogojiwanong a place where they can continue to learn and reflect about the truth and take active roles in working towards reconciliation.”

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More to come

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