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Edmonton Public Library launches new anthology that explores reconciliation

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By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor EDMONTON







March 28, 2016.

An anthology that examines reconciliation will be launched on Wednesday in Edmonton’s downtown public library.

In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation will kick off Edmonton Public Library’s Exploring Reconciliation series.

“Reconciliation has been so wonderfully engaged with and received in the city, from all the leaders … right through to the citizens,” said Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, editor of In This Together and outgoing historian laureate for Edmonton.

In This Together is a collection of essays by Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors from across Canada and grapples with the harsh reality of colonization.

“It’s something incredibly important for us to talk about and understand,” said Metcalfe-Chenail, who defines herself as a “settler, but I consider myself an ally and try to be a well-informed one.” 

She says she agrees with Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, who said reconciliation was essential for all Canadians.

A national call for proposals for the anthology went out through social media. Close to 50 proposals were received and from those 15 were developed into essays. Some are directly written while others are “as told to” works.

“These are stories that are from the heart and really speak to personal experience,” said Metcalfe-Chenail.

The launch of the anthology, which is published by Brindle & Glass and received funding from the Edmonton Arts Council, is a perfect way for EPL to kick off its Exploring Reconciliation series, says Susan Mikytyshyn, with EPL’s adult services team. Her team is working with EPL’s Aboriginal services team and Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (RISE) to present a panel discussion with three of the local contributors – Rhonda Kronyk, Carissa Halton and Steven Cooper.

“(Reconciliation) is a really important issue for all Canadians, and Edmonton Public Library has a commitment to transform communities and be a catalyst for learning and discovery, so working with other people in the community to help Edmontonians explore reconciliation is a really important goal for us,” said Mikytyshyn.

The Exploring Reconciliation series will feature a number of events throughout the year, including the continuation of the Amiskwaciy History Series project, which will host various speakers including Patti Laboucane-Benson, and EPL will also recognize the anniversary of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation report and calls to action.

But beyond the special year-long focus on reconciliation, EPL will continue to deliver with its Aboriginal services team, which includes highlighting Aboriginal literature in a special collection at the downtown Stanley A. Milner branch; marking Aboriginal works throughout the regular collections in other library branches; providing more materials in Indigenous languages; hosting book clubs in June focusing on Canadian Indigenous literature; and taking its pop-up library (books and programming in a van) to the Enoch Cree Nation.

Mikytyshyn points out that EPL has community librarians, who work with different organizations to build an understanding and determine how EPL collections and services can reflect the various communities. EPL partners with a number of Aboriginal organizations, such as Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society and Edmonton Native Healing Centre, to provide services; hosts Aboriginal family nights in a number of its branches; and will be acknowledging National Metis Week this year.

In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation anthology will be launched Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Stanley A. Milner library theatre.