PEI Public Libraries offer a collection of Indigenous books

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DISCLAIMER: This story contains distressing details.

Islanders who want to learn more about Indigenous cultures and history can turn to their local library for resources.

The PEI Public Library Service has a growing number of books in its Indigenous collection, which contains titles by Indigenous authors on a variety of topics affecting Indigenous peoples.

“This is a collection that we put together a few years ago,” said Grace Dawson, a regional librarian with the service, in an interview with Island morningit’s Stéphanie Kelly.

“We have been purchasing items related to Aboriginal culture for years. But we decided with the publication of Truth and Reconciliation [Commission] and the conclusions there that it would be really useful to have a collection that is really specific and referred to as our aboriginal collection. “

One of the principles of being a public library is that we provide free access to this education and knowledge.– Grace Dawson, regional librarian

The collection includes books for all ages and on topics ranging from Indigenous spirituality to land and treaty rights.

Renewed awareness

According to Dawson, the books in the Aboriginal collection have been distributed over 1,000 times in the past year.

Regional Librarian Grace Dawson says the PEI Library Service’s Indigenous collection is growing steadily. (Jessica Doria-Brown / CBC)

“We were really lucky and happy to see these resources being used by Islanders,” said Dawson.

Dawson said that as the public becomes more and more interested in issues that affect Indigenous peoples, the Public Library Service tries “to find additional resources to somehow improve and expand the collection to address these issues. needs “.

The topic of residential schools rose to national prominence again after preliminary reports of the remains of 215 children found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops during a field investigation.

Dawson said the Public Library Service had many books related to residential schools.

Some of these titles include the picture book I lost my conversation by Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe, and Indian Schools Trail: Legacy of the Shubenacadie Residential School by Nova Scotia journalist Chris Benjamin.

Education and reconciliation

Dawson believes that public access to books and resources about Indigenous communities can help the “path to reconciliation”.

“I think education and knowledge is everything,” Dawson said. “One of the principles of being a public library is that we provide free access to this education and knowledge.

“These are topics we may not have learned in school, so the library becomes a very good resource for individuals to learn more about these issues and to talk about them more freely and in a more educated way. . “

Islanders can learn more about the Indigenous collection on the Public Library Service website or by calling their local library branch.

Support is available for anyone affected by their residential school experience and for those triggered by the latest reports. A national residential school crisis line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

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