Aboriginal Roundtables

Roundtable 1: Opening New Worlds

October 2013

The first ever Aboriginal Roundtable on reading policy was held in Banff, October 27 – 29, 2013. The Roundtable brought together 50 key Aboriginal leaders from the library, education and publishing sectors to explore approaches and to begin to create an effective agenda to promote access to reading on reserves for children and youth, and to create a much-needed common agenda to champion reading and reading policies for Aboriginal children.

The conference made the following recommendations:

2013 Aboriginal Roundtable Recommendations

  1. Call for properly funded libraries in Aboriginal communities in support of NAPLO’s initiative.
  2. Find a national representative Champion for Reading, a well-known figure to promote the value of reading to Aboriginal youth in particular.  This could also be done on a provincial or regional basis;
  3. Remote Aboriginal communities need increased programming to outreach to parents; staff training; technology; (best examples northern Saskatchewan library services);
  4. As a matter of priority First Nations and the NRC need to make the case that First Nations’ community libraries must have a dedicated stream of funding from federal coffers. A-Base funding;
  5. Provinces should not be let off the hook;
  6. For off reserve Aboriginal people library systems should adopt mandatory training in cultural awareness for all library staff.  (New Brunswick model)
  7. Research and access programs that could contribute to literacy e.g. relevant studies that support our case
  8. Examine community based approaches that are working;
  9. Support reading in one’s mother tongue as an important activity;
  10. Build awareness & linkages with all stakeholders: librarians; educators; educational institutions; relevant associations like the Canadian Library Association; publishers; media; Rotary and other service clubs who have a stake in citizens who can read and build knowledge;
  11. Advocacy – design a strategy that attracts support from the above plus municipal, provincial, federal, and Aboriginal politicians; (special effort at times prior to their elections);
  12. Prepare a policy on attracting sponsorships;

Following the Roundtable the National Reading Campaign released the following statement to the press:

Aboriginal Roundtable Press Release

Conference Program and Resources

Keynote Speakers:

Richard Wagamese: Author, journalist, broadcaster, and educator

Waubgeshig Rice: Author and journalist Ningwakwe

Priscilla George: Founding member of the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition and the Ningwakwe Learning Press

Paul Seesaquasis: Author and Editor-in-Chief, Theytus Books

Sheri Mishibijinima: Band Librarian, Wikwemikong Public Library – “Wikwemikong Public Library

Susan Aglukark: Recording Artist – “A Slow Awakening

Projects Panel

Moderator: Deborah Lee


Brian Kaulback: South Slave Divisional Education Council – “Leadership for Literacy Initiative: Fostering a love of reading in Aboriginal communities”

Patricia Knockwood: Aboriginal Services Librarian, New Brunswick Public Library – “Aboriginal Program Kits in New Brunswick: Storytime and Reading Circle”

Monique Woroniak: Youth Services Librarian, Winnipeg Public Library – “Growing Aboriginal Services at Winnipeg Public Library


Publishers Panel

Moderator: Harvey McCue


Randall McIlroy: Pemmican Press – “Pemmican Press is a Metis Publishing House.”

Lisa Wilson: Gabriel Dumont Institute – The Gabriel Dumont Institute

Louise Flaherty: Inhabit Media – “QIA Sponsored Inuktitut Projects and Publications


Supportive Institutes Panel

Moderator: Jeff Horvath


Kluane Adamek: First Nation Liaison Officer and Advisor, Office of the National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Daphne Johnston: Librarian, Cape Croker Library


Reading Promotion Panel

Moderator: Daphne Johnston


Jeff Burnham: GoodMinds.com – “Speaking Notes

Sherry Campbell: President/CEO, Frontier College – “Summer Literacy Camps

Wendy Sinclair: Aboriginal Library Services Consultant, Regina Public Library – “Albert Library – Reading Promotion & Library Services for Aboriginal People

Roundtable 2: Best practices and Advocacy

The Roundtable examined ways to facilitate the creation of public libraries in Aboriginal communities and enhanced library services off reserves, what models libraries might look like on a reserve and how to advocate for these libraries and services in order to ensure greater access to reading and reading materials in Aboriginal communities. Speakers included Idle No More’s Sylvia McAdam, author Joseph Boyden, politician Bob Rae, Dr. Cindy Blackstock, and more. The entire event was filmed and the videos can be viewed here.  (link on the PDF – NALA-Final-Report)