THUNDER BAY, Ontario — December 26, 2018 (LSN) In response to a number of recent tragic and traumatic events in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Public Library reaffirms its commitment to Anti-racism and Decolonization. We stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people of Thunder Bay in their continuing struggle for social justice and human rights.
In September 2017, the Thunder Bay Public Library Board approved a Relationship Building and Reconciliation Action Plan. The report and action plan are living documents and testament to the dedication of the Library’s Indigenous Liaison, Robyn Medicine, along with the members of the Indigenous Advisory Council and Library staff. The objective of the Library’s Action Plan continues to be the advancement of initiatives in decolonization, anti-racism, reconciliation and relationship building with Indigenous peoples based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, and the recommendations made after the Inquest into the deaths of Seven First Nations Youth
In June 2018, representatives from 11 major organizations, including Thunder Bay Public Library, signed a Thunder Bay Anti-Racism & Inclusion Accord at City Hall. Each organization involved committed to: Addressing racism against Indigenous and racialized persons by setting short and long-term goals to meet the calls to action or recommendations; Supporting an ongoing process of truth & reconciliation throughout their organization and in our community by developing and maintaining respectful relations with Indigenous governments, organizations and individuals; Report on our goals annually, beginning in June 2019.
John Pateman, CEO/Chief Librarian for Thunder Bay Public Library, said this about the Library’s commitment to Anti-Racism and Inclusion:
“Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) recognizes, accepts and acknowledges that racism exists in Thunder Bay and at TBPL. Racism is based on power and access to resources. It divides us and it is unacceptable. Racism is the problem and only a strong anti-racism response is the answer.
Actions speak louder than words. TBPL is already taking action to decolonize the public library.
We have entered into a partnership of shared power and resources with Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) to create a Community Hub at Waverley. This includes an Elder in Residence and an Indigenous Knowledge Centre at each location. This demonstrates that for TBPL decolonization is a conscious act and not a metaphor. It is a process of unlearning the settler colonial culture and practice of the public library. It is a sharing of space, power and resources because we are all Treaty people. And it is a part of the TBPL Anti-Racism response to institutional racism. We stand together to challenge and tackle racism by holding ourselves accountable. We will look inwards at our organization, led by the communities we serve, to address systemic racism and eliminate barriers.”
The Library has also made the recent report titled Broken Trust - Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director available to the public online and in each library. We also commit to examining the report to determine if there are any recommendations contained therein that require action by the Library.
We acknowledge that the City of Thunder Bay has been built on the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation, signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850. We also recognize the contributions made to our community by the Métis people.