The Kingston Frontenac Public Library recognizes that since the beginning of time there have been hundreds of distinct sovereign nations of people, with thriving communities, cultures, governance structures and languages, living on these lands.
Guided by teachings from their ancestors, with leadership from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Grandmothers and Elders, Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island, also known as North and South America, have been living in relationship with all things within the lands, waters, and sky – ensuring that there is enough for all, taking only what will be used, respecting earth as the Mother that sustains us all.
Indigenous peoples have a responsibility to be protectors because of this relationship. They have become tellers of stories, and the holders of teachings and ways of being, knowing and understanding the world.
Indigenous languages were spoken, and stories were told in these trees long before words in English or French were heard. Those languages are still spoken today and are being reclaimed and revitalized by Indigenous peoples.
The Kingston Frontenac Public Library acknowledges that our work takes place on the traditional territories of the Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat and is home to Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, one of ten communities that make up the Algonquins of Ontario. We acknowledge the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and recognize that our region is home to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit from across Turtle Island, as well as Indigenous Peoples from other areas of the world.
Members of these Indigenous nations and communities share their knowledge, gifts, and stories with our Library community. Our role as a library is strengthened by their contributions, and the relationships we have with local Indigenous Peoples, organizations, and governments. We recognize that these relationships are built on shared values: preserving and passing forward knowledge, exploring literacy in all its forms, environmental stewardship, and creating inclusive communities. The Library must continue to demonstrate these values in how we engage, work, and share together.
Truth and Reconciliation
The institutions that have become the Kingston Frontenac Public Library were founded in colonial ideology and practice. We acknowledge our settler history, and the Library commits to joining in the work to repair harms caused and in preventing future harm. The Library needs to build trust through action, and this will be the ongoing work of generations.
Honesty and truth compel us to acknowledge the violent effects of colonialism on Indigenous people, their languages, and the legitimacy of their knowledge. Indigenous ways of knowing were pushed aside and put down. The oppressive nature of colonialism is visible in the systemic racism woven through the Library’s practices and systems. Changes are needed so that Indigenous community members see themselves and their ways of being reflected in our spaces, collections, programs, and services.
We acknowledge the Indigenous children who were forcibly taken to government sponsored institutions called “Residential Schools” and “Indian Day Schools”. Torn from their families, the children suffered atrocities at the hands of those in charge. They were abused and neglected, resulting in loss of life. Some children were murdered. We remember the survivors who came home and were forever changed by their suffering, and those who continue to live with the resulting intergenerational trauma. We remember those who did not return to their families, who died away from home and did not receive a sacred ceremonial burial. We acknowledge the hurt felt by all Indigenous communities and those who are working to identify these children.
We acknowledge the loss of identity, language and connection to ceremony, culture and land resulting from the colonial practices of displacement and forced assimilation. The intentional devastation of the physical, cultural, spiritual, and economic well-being of Indigenous peoples can be directly linked to the burden of disease, poverty and disadvantage still experienced today. We honour the resiliency of the people who have kept the languages alive, both when speaking the languages was illegal and now in our ongoing colonial state. We honour the work taking place on these lands to reclaim and revitalize language and culture. This work creates opportunities for the Library to work in relationship with Indigenous partners, and we pledge to support this vital work.
We acknowledge that Indigenous stories, teachings, and practices are underrepresented in the Library’s collection, and that colonial accounts of history reinforce colonial ideals and do not represent Indigenous worldviews and events. Recorded knowledge has emphasized settler culture at the expense of the oral tradition of Indigenous knowledge and ways of being. We understand that traditional library practices have resulted in this misrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples. While the Library has made changes to build a more inclusive collection, work remains to be done. This is an opportunity to create a new pathway to what should have been and share space in relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
We acknowledge that the Treaty-making processes of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were undertaken in the spirit of peaceful co-existence and mutual respect by First Nations. The Crown and governing bodies have failed to fully recognize or respect First Nations’ rights and title and sovereignty, and instead, with legislation such as the Indian Act, undermined the Treaty relationship. It is critical that First Nations’ understandings about the nature of Treaties, the significance of the Treaty-making processes and the spirit and intent of Treaties be understood, respected, and placed at the centre of a renewed nation-to-nation relationship. We acknowledge the importance of education and advocacy in this process and the Library’s responsibility to support this work.
We acknowledge the impacts of environmental destruction. Climate change, industrial contamination and the disruption of wildlife habitat reduce the supply and purity of traditional foods, medicines, and water. This erodes the quality of life for those dependent on the land, and further affects Indigenous cultures, languages, and spiritual health and well-being. We respect the special relationship that Indigenous peoples have with the earth and the practice of reverence, gratitude, humility, and reciprocity. The Library will continually work to implement more sustainable processes. Through our programs and collections, we will educate the broader community on the importance of a healthy environment, climate change and sustainability, supporting individuals and communities in taking action so that future generations will not be put in peril.
Calls to Action
Guided by the June 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, and the CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report which put those calls to action into a library context, we are committed to embedding these calls into our structure, planning, expectations, and reportable outcomes as part of the ongoing development of Kingston Frontenac Public Library. In those areas where we cannot affect change directly, we will continue our efforts of truth telling via our programming, collections, and services. We will shine a light on areas where work remains to be done.
Historically, libraries were designed to uplift, but also to assimilate. It is our responsibility to ensure that, moving forward, our library system is equitable and inclusive, celebrating diversity, and recognized as such by all.
The purposeful work done to date and the meaningful relationships we are forming with Indigenous colleagues and community members speaks to our good intentions. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as a guide, the Library will continue to move forward. The Indigenous community will be invited into this process, and the strength of this relationship and their opinion of our success will be the benchmark.