Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is showcasing Indigenous people, cultures, customs, and creations this October during Library Month celebrations.
In Port Hardy, there will be an Awil’gola Open House on Oct. 24 starting at 5:00 p.m., where the library’s new Cultural Literacy Kits – new materials that speak to the history, resiliency, and strength of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak’wala-speaking peoples) will be featured.
There will also be cultural demonstrations of cedar weaving, button blankets, and dancing, plus refreshments, prize draws and more! 10 children will win a Kwak’wala colouring book.
“I reached out to the Indigenous community in Port Hardy to learn how we could better serve the community,” said VIRL’s North Island Customer Services Librarian, Laura Kaminker, when asked to comment on how the event came about. “I especially contacted people involved in literacy and education. A few of us started meeting informally at the Library to talk about they would like to see, what we might do together.”
She added VIRL loved the idea and ran with it, but also pointed out how “Many First Nations people have helped make this possible. Yvonne Wilson, who has been a Cultural Director of the U’mista Cultural Centre, and is now the head of the Aboriginal Infant Health Network, evaluated the current/old Kwak’wala cultural lit kits. Michelle Hunt from the Kwakiutl First Nation, has reached out to people to give cultural demonstrations, and to Elected Chief Ross Hunt, to give a welcome. Donna Cranmer of Alert Bay also advised me on materials, and Terri Mack of Strong Nations Publishing helped us collect the materials. The U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay also helped with that, and has generously donated copies of a Kwak’wala language edition of “Love You Forever,” a children’s book by Robert Munsch (famous Canadian children’s author).”
Kaminker noted she has also been working with the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda School to “get some students involved. GNN students visit the library regularly. I’m hoping they will do traditional drumming and dancing.”
While Kaminker is proud to have so much Indigenous culture on hand for the community to enjoy, she noted that “all communities use the library. This means the library is in a position to create opportunities for our communities to get together, and in some small way, increase our understanding and acceptance of each other. I’m not naïve. I’m not thinking people will attend one event and have some great revelation. But we can come together, share an experience, eat some food, and learn a little.”
Library month kicked off on Sept. 30 with Orange Shirt Day with VIRL staff wearing orange shirts (or orange buttons) in solidarity and support of the Every Child Matters initiative.
To find out more, visit VIRL’s website or contact your branch.