FOPL Members:

Here are FOPL’s First Nation (FN) execution strategies as proposed in our FOPL Strategic Plan which aligns with the provincial and federal government initiatives with respect to Indigenous strategies and Truth and Reconciliation recommendations..

FOPL just received the FN Libraries contact list from SOLS and we’re entering it into the system now so we can contact all.  A collaborative FACEBOOK group will be set up by next week and a mailing done to all FN Library contacts.


We are (I am) a registered lobbyist with MTCS for FN and Public Library issues.  Shelagh Paterson at OLA is as well.  We partner with OLA, OPLA, OLBA, FNLA, SOLS, and OLS-North.  We, the CEOs, meet at least quarterly.

We coordinate effort and priority setting for public libraries of all stripes in Ontario (The latest effort being the Libraries 2025 Summit).

FOPL’s First Nation Caucus has every FN library in the province as a member. We have 47 FN Libraries as FOPL full members.

Our board includes two First Nation Library Directors.  Both are proud Status Indians and have served for years in this role.  (One is a librarian and the other is a PhD/MLIS and are very well qualified and involved in FN issues in Ontario.  We have many involved caucus members.

First Nations Caucus

Sabrina Saunders, CEO, Six Nations Public Library, E-mail: saunders [@]

Sheri Mishibinijima, CEO, Wikwemikong Library, E-mail: wikypl [@]

Our Board meets quarterly in person.  We fund some board members trips to Toronto.  We also meet at OLA Super Conference for our AGM.

I contact my Caucus chairs for insights on our activities with respect to FN Libraries and they also contribute to the overall discussion of libraries in Ontario.  Our FN Caucus directors have a very long history and are very well informed on FN Library issues in Canada.

We include FN issues and recommendations in every document, discussion paper, the FOPL strategic plan, position paper we write.  This has included over the past 2 years our submissions to the provincial government on:

  • Ontario’s First Culture Strategy 2016 Discussion Paper (invited)
  • Public Library Program Funding Review 2017 Discussion Paper (invited)
  • Cabinet Task Force on Community Hubs 2016-17 Discussion paper (invited)
  • Municipal Act Review 2016 (invited)
  • 2015, 2016 and 2017 Provincial Budget Consultations submissions (invited)
  • Queen’s Park Library Day meetings annually. (many meetings in one day and follow up)
  • And more including oral presentations and meeting with key government Ministers, DMs, and senior civil servants.

The executive director (Stephen Abram) has attended and spoken at:

  • OLA Super Conference including FN issues
  • OLS-North annual conference in Sudbury
  • FNSAG consultations and strategy meetings
  • FN Libraries in the OLS-North leadership meeting in Sault Ste. Marie in 2016
  • etc.

Other ways FOPL supports FNPL’s into the future

Our best and most exciting initiative is underway right now:

  1. The Board approved commissioning a statistics, measurement, and rankings report on FN Libraries in Ontario and distributed this to all members.  We also compared them to ‘influencer’ libraries in the big cities to gauge equitable library services.  (If you don’t have a copy, just ask me for one.)
  2. In December we initiated a formal twinning / sponsorship program for urban, medium-sized, and rural libraries to twin and sponsor memberships for ALL FN Libraries in Ontario.  As of January 2017 we have every FN Library sponsored as a member of FOPL and we work on their behalf.  As an indicator of our members support for Truth & Reconciliation and FN Issues, it only took 30 days to be oversubscribed with sponsorships!  Our next steps in early 2017 include:
    1. Contacting every FN Library to gain their endorsement of their membership sponsorship.b. Setting up every FN Library head staff on our mailing lists.c. Setting up a Community of Practice for all Sponsors and FN Libraries to share ideas, needs, and programs.
    2. Building a program idea repository for two way programming between public libraries and FN Public Libraries.
    3. We are working in an advisory capacity with ORION on broadband access and issues in rural, northern, FN, and remote public libraries to help address the Swiss cheese that is broadband connectivity there.
  3. We are a finalist in the Ontario Ministry of Finance #BudgetTalks initiative for $3 million grant for 8 projects.  We are one of 17 finalists (out of hundreds) and are organizing our folks to vote us up.  We are hopeful that this will be successful and a first step as we address the seeming 2016 big cut of connectivity funding for libraries in Ontario that we hope to see fixed in the 2017 budget.  This potential cut could have major ramifications for FN and northern public libraries.

Our ultimate dream is that:

  1. Every FN community has access to public libraries on reserve.
  2. Every FN resident has free access to their nearest municipal or county public library system.Every FN Library and School has equitable access to the broadband connectivity, digital resources, databases, and information they need.
  3. Every FN Library has funding for staff and resources to support local culture, recreation, programming and education.
  4. Every FN Library supports and is supported by the network of FN and public libraries in Ontario.

Only a minority of FN Reserves have public libraries and our position is that public libraries are a right in Ontario and this must be addressed. They serve all equitably and link their members to the world of programs and information as community hubs.