GROUP CALLS FOR FEDERAL FINANCING OF LIBRARIES FOR CANADA’S ABORIGINAL PEOPLES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 2013
“Aboriginal Readers: Opening New Worlds”, the historic first meeting of Aboriginal librarians, educators, authors and publishers held in Banff, Alberta October 27 – 29th, is calling on the government of Canada to ensure that Aboriginal communities across Canada have access to the same fundamental institution that all other Canadians enjoy — properly funded public community libraries, as described in the attached document from the National Aboriginal Public Library Organization (NAPLO).
Being a reader is the single most powerful factor influencing a person’s success in life. (For details, see our research summary, Reading: The Facts.*) Yet most Aboriginal communities across Canada, especially those on reserves or in remote areas, do not have access to the most important institutions for creating life-long readers, properly funded public libraries.
Educational institutions are key to teaching people how to read. But funding for education for Aboriginal people already falls far behind that spent on education for the rest of Canadians. According to StatsCan, the national per-student average in 2009 was $10, 439. According to a statement from the Assembly of First Nations, the national average for First Nations students is about $7,101, or less than 70% of the norm for other Canadians.**
Public libraries are essential to promoting the joy of reading, thus turning the knowledge of how to read into a practice that empowers and enriches people’s lives. Yet the statistics presented at the conference by Sheri Mishibinijima, a member of NAPLO, indicate that less than a third of the 614 First Nations bands in Canada have an on-reserve library, and most of those have only a part-time librarian and severely inadequate resources.
The Assembly of First Nations wrote to the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, in an attempt to address this situation. The federal government has responded to NAPLO’s proposal by suggesting that the money already allocated to education be used to create public libraries. As it is, education funds are inadequate and in no other Canadian jurisdiction are communities expected to fund public libraries from education budgets.
Aboriginal Canadians should have access to all of the opportunities available to any other Canadian. The National Reading Campaign strongly endorses this call for fairness for these communities and calls on the federal government to reconsider this decision as matter of priority. Aboriginal children and youth cannot wait any longer for a chance to succeed. Schools are not libraries and aboriginal children need both.
“Aboriginal Readers: Opening New Worlds” was the first of three roundtable conferences organized by the NRC and sponsored by TD Bank Group. TD has a long-standing commitment to literacy, and recently published a comprehensive report on aboriginal literacy, “Literacy Matters: Unlocking the Potential of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.”***
For further media information or to arrange an interview contact:
off. 416 977-2576
cell 647 284 7428
off. 416 847-0309 x 252
National Aboriginal Public Library Organization
Presentation to “Aboriginal Readers: Opening New Worlds”
October 28, 2013 by Sheri Mishibijinima
What is NAPLO?
NAPLO is the National Aboriginal Public Libraries Organization created by First Nation Public Librarians who knew that there is a dire need for structured support for all First Nation Libraries that presently exist and those of the future across Canada. NAPLO was created in 2010 by a small group of Librarians with determination and passion to work together to seek out and secure adequate funding and support to all First Nation Libraries.
NAPLO has a vision to strengthen and promote First Nation Public Library services on-reserve through advocacy, awareness and networking and NAPLO believes that First Nation Public Libraries provide economically and culturally strong communities. First Nation Librarians that serve on NAPLO are extremely dedicated about the library service that is provided to First Nation Communities.
First Nation Libraries face large challenges due to lack of sustainable funding. First Nation Libraries are grossly underfunded and under staffed. First Nation Public Libraries although recognized as Public Libraries do not receive the same funding that is provided to Non-First Nation Libraries. This lack of funding has left all First Nation Libraries constantly struggling to operate. Some libraries are in sub-standard buildings; carrying outdated resources and minimal connectivity. The majority of First Nation Libraries are severely understaffed with no pay equity. First Nation Librarians are performing the duties of 3 or 4 Librarians. NAPLO is determined to make a change for established libraries so that will continue exist and the librarians will be recognized for the jobs that they are presently doing through pay equity and an increase off staff where needed.
NAPLO is concerned with and working to rectify the lack of First Nation Public Libraries and through on going advocacy hope to change the situation that is present on many First Nations who have no access to a First Nation Public Library. According to INAC there are 614 First Nation Bands in Canada. There are only 200 On-Reserve First Nation Libraries according to “The Minister’s Advisory Committee on Library Service for Aboriginal People. This is a situation that should not be occurring on any of our First Nations. Every single First Nation Person should be allowed to have access to all services that are provided by having a First Nation Public Library and those services that are provided to First Nation Communities that are presently served by Libraries.
NAPLO is presently reaching out to other provinces and territories of Canada to join in solidarity as they collectively work to strengthen and raise awareness of the importance of First Nation Public Libraries as an essential service to the First Nation Communities that they serve and will serve in the future.
Where we are now?
We have made headway with the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, with the past CEO and now it’s time to update the new CEO. We have met with the AFN, Rob Clarke Member of Parliament and Chiefs of Ontario as well as the UNION.
Our resolutions have been put forward and have been adopted by Assembly of First Nations and the Chiefs of Ontario.
A letter was sent to the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (as they were noted at that time) from Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo which states exactly what the history of NAPLO is. A letter was received by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada thanking for our addresses and our concerns, then another letter was received stating that the Government invest $175 million over three years to schools, and that Mr. Duncan recommends we seek out Stephen Gagnon to discuss our proposal.
At this point in time, Federation’s CEO leaves his position and no further discussions have taken place. At this time I Sheri Mishibinijima am left wondering what to do, what the next steps are, and how and who in the world can we talk to and get results for our First Nation Public Libraries. We are not expecting Education funding and we had stated this all along, we need our own public funding.