May 21, 2015
Helping increase literacy and programming on the Blood Tribe reserve
The first of its kind
Opening its doors in February 2013, the Kainai Library was the first of its kind in Canada — a public library right on a First Nation community. Located in Standoff, Alberta on the Blood Tribe’s reserve, the library provides access to more than 900,000 books through its affiliation with the Chinook Arch group of libraries and counts over 1,000 members with a card who can access the library and its varied programs.
“The library also provides computer services for the people in the community to print out school assignments, look at job listings or send out their résumés,” says Kathy Goodstriker, librarian, Kainai Library.
“Both the library and the programs we offer engage community members and allow them more opportunities to educate themselves and find employment.”
Both the library and the programming that it offers are community-based, providing culturally relevant materials to both the Blood Tribe and the surrounding community. Many books are in their own languages or from First Nations authors and many programs offer a chance to practice speaking Blackfoot, their native tongue.
The Kainai Library submitted a request for funding for programs that would support this mandate and TransAlta provided $5,000 to support four programs: art for middle and high school students; literacy classes for young mothers and their babies; a beginners sewing class for ages 15 and up (taught in Blackfoot); as well as a community Blackfoot crafts and language class.
“The opportunity to provide funding for the Kainai Library falls within TransAlta’s Aboriginal Relations program mandate to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with the Aboriginal Communities in whose traditional lands we work, “ says Jorge Aviles, advisor, aboriginal relations.
“We were excited to be able to fund these programs that really help contribute to making this community library a positive and sustainable place.”
More than just a library
TransAlta recently also secured over 200 books for the community, which Kainai services distributed to three other groups it sponsors. The Blood Tribe Youth Ranch received books, as well as a centre run by the Kainai services for apprehended First Nations children from all over the province, an adult literacy program and a community reading resources.
“The more people at the grassroots level we can influence to become ‘part of the solution’ rather than ‘part of the problem’ will help in making our community a positive place for all,” says Linda Weasel Head, library manager.
“That is one of the aspects and goals for keeping a viable and sustainable library within the community. We are grateful for this grant, which will greatly enhance the programming at Kainai Public Library.”