As we do before beginning a Library program, I am pleased to offer our land acknowledgment here:  

We would like to acknowledge that we are gathering here today on the Treaty Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and before them, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Huron and Wendat. We also acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other global Indigenous people that now call Brampton their home. We are honoured to live, work and enjoy this land.

As we approach the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021, I want to encourage all residents of Brampton to take some time to reflect on the tragedies of the past in light of our hopes for the future.

This new holiday was created as a result of one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). While it was introduced for federally regulated employers only, the City of Brampton has also chosen to recognize this holiday, as a sign of its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, to underscore the importance of reflection, and to provide all staff with time for related events and education. For these reasons, all Brampton Library branches will also be closed on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

This comes at the right time. Canadians have been awakened this year to the injustice of the Indigenous residential school system with the discoveries of the graves of children who perished as a result. But in reality, this is not news. The TRC and multiple survivors have been telling the truth for decades about a system of forced removal of children from their communities in a misguided attempt to assimilate them. The result is also well known: sexual and physical abuse, malnutrition, and loss of language and culture, leading to a crisis of alienation and a cycle of abuse that continues today.

For myself, my greatest learning experience was at the 2018 Saskatchewan Library Association conference, where the Canadian Federation of Library Associations-Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques (CFLA-FCAB) held its National Forum. (I am currently CFLA Chair). The SLA organized a blanket exercise where participants are assigned historical roles and guided through a sombre, inexorable loss of Indigenous land and rights symbolized by the shrinking of the space occupied by the blankets they sit on. For me, the exercise brought the tragic past into focus in a moving way.

Libraries have a role to play in spreading truth and promoting reconciliation. As institutions of learning, discovery, and inclusion, it is our responsibility to ensure that voices that have not been heard are amplified, and to create empathy for those that have been mistreated in Canada’s past, so that we can create a shared future based on respect for our mutual rights. On September 30, I challenge you to listen to at least one of these voices.

You can start with these reading lists for all ages, recommended by Brampton Library staff. Click here for our list of books for adults and here for Truth and Reconciliation titles for children and teens. On cloudLibrary, click here to discover these reads for adults and click here for children and teens. I’m also pleased to share details of the First Nation Communities Read 2021/2022. Click here to view the adult and teen shortlist. Click here to view the children’s shortlist.

The City of Brampton will recognize Truth and Reconciliation Week by raising the Every Child Matters flag from September 27 - October 1, 2021.  On September 30, the flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-mast and the Brampton City Hall Clock Tower will be lit orange. Tune in to the City’s Introduction to Indigenization program with guest speaker Kelly Fran Davis on Thursday, September 30 at 10:00 am. Click here for more information.

There are also events, mostly virtual, happening this year in our community and across the country. The Peel Museum, Art Gallery, and Archives (PAMA) is hosting an all-day outdoor live art installation called #hopeandhealingcanada as part of Culture Days 2021, just a short walk from our Four Corners Branch at 9 Wellington Street East in downtown Brampton. I also recommend the virtual events at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and look forward to this drumming circle program. Together, we can take steps toward understanding and healing.

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