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ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Sep 29, 2015

ACCI at IILF! (The 9th International Indigenous Librarians Forum 2015) by Annie Bosum, ACCI Librarian

I participated as a poster presenter at the 9th International Indigenous Librarians Forum held at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, August 4-7, 2015.  The delegates came from many places around the world: New Zealand, Australia, Vancouver, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario, to name a few.  

One of the buildings, University of Manitoba
DAY 1: Upon arrival, after a long journey from Ouje-Bougoumou, I was whisked away into the outskirts of Winnipeg, which was about an hour and half drive, to Turtle Lodge in the Sagkeeg First Nation village.  Elder David Courchene Jr., led the group in a ceremony involving teachings, songs, and drumming.  Later on we were invited to the welcome reception in the Marshall McLuhan Hall on the University of Manitoba campus. Among the speakers to welcome and entertain us were Mary-Jo Romaniuk, University of Manitoba Librarian; Deborah Young, Executive Leader of Indigenous Education and Dovie Thomason who did a reading from her book – as a writer myself, this was the highlight of the evening for me---a wonderful performance indeed!

Conference Emcee Carl Stone with local Elders
DAY 2:  Participants were invited to a Sunrise Ceremony on the grounds of the University of Manitoba.  Following breakfast; Carl Stone, the Emcee for the conference, welcomed and introduced the delegates and the Elders and engaged everyone in the Knowledge Keepers’ and Traditional Peoples’ Sharing Circle.  The keynote speaker during lunch was Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).  

Me in front of my poster !

During the break we set up our Poster presentations: there was genuine interest in the poster that I had prepared; questions were asked about our adaptation of the Brian Deer Classification scheme and found the steps we took in implementing it very interesting. One of the participants suggested that we put our catalogue of the changes we made to the Brian Deer Classification scheme online for others to see. 

Conference Area where presentations took place

Other presenters/exhibitors were also present in the poster exhibition room: UBC Library; Pemmican Publications; Fernwood Publishing; Goodminds.com (Jeff Burnham);the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and writer/author Larry Lovie, whom I bought a book from to add to the ACCI library, about Residential Schools.  Throughout the day there were many presenters from other libraries, museums, and resource centers.

The closing keynote speakers were Elders Dave Courchene Jr., Gary Robson and Florence Paynter. That evening we were given the option of dining out in the downtown area of Winnipeg with fellow conference participants.  I got an invitation from the team from UBC, it was a great, enjoyable meal…an evening that felt like I had met up with old friends!

Later on, we were separated into groups for a tour of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights that focused on traditional culture.  I enjoyed our lesson from the beaver and the turtle, and I got to see the huge Metis octopus bag! You can watch the video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodbjHdLvFo about the mounting of this bag- highly interesting!
Museum of Human Rights
Huge octopus bag on display

DAY 3:  Unfortunately, I missed Brian Deer when he joined the conference via Skype (due to illness he could not attend the IILF).  According to those who were able to attend, he was very humble, and mentioned that he was not comfortable taking copy-right ownership to the Brian Deer Classification Scheme.

In the late afternoon the conference shifted its focus toward the non-indigenous delegates where discussions evolved on the theme “How to be an Effective Ally”, led by Monique Woroniak.  A bus was scheduled to take the delegates to the First Folkorama pavilion which featured a Folkorama VIP Tour. 

DAY 4:  We took a bus to downtown Winnipeg to visit the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Peoples’ Library: http://www.mices.com. We were given a quick walk-through the two story building and visited the library, which holds approximately 10 000 books, periodicals, and audio visual material.  I was surprised by the large number of resources contained in a small space, they did mention that they had an extra archival area downstairs as well.

Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Peoples' Library

We then took the bus to the University of Winnipeg where we were given a tour of their Archives; Brett Lougheed gave us a brief presentation about the Two-Spirited Collection.  
Tour of archives, University of Manitoba

We visited the Centre for Rupert Land Studies Collection with a presentation by Roland Bohr. As he spoke to us, I couldn’t help but notice all the interesting books in that tiny room!  I wished I was also able to do the tour to see the Library’s Indigenous Collection!  Our lunch was great - Veal stew and bannock.  The keynote speakers were Wab Kinew of the Indigenous Advisory Circle and Jacqueline Romanow, Chair of Indigenous Studies, who gave welcoming addresses as well as informative presentations about the University of Winnipeg and their student body.  After lunch we walked to the Millennium Library to visit the Children’s resource area.  I really liked the animal prints on the floor, the ceiling panels of the sky and trees and the artwork done by children who were asked to express their visions of “community”!

Millennium Library

Detail of decor in Millennium Library

Children's Area in Millennium Library

Decor in Millennium Library

We returned to the University of Manitoba around 3 o’clock, and were asked to divide in two concurrent session groups with indigenous delegates in one and the other with the non-native delegates.  It was interesting to hear the indigenous point of view and closing remarks and to watch the delegates take part in the smudging and the passing around of the ‘grandfather stone’. 

The most important thing that stuck in my mind is hearing the Elders remind us how not to just think of ourselves as librarians but as knowledge and wisdom keepers and to view ourselves as the gate keepers of language and culture! What beautiful words spoken by a man of genuine wisdom!

That evening we had the gala dinner and closing ceremonies.  Delegates were presented with gifts for their presentations and a proposal for the 10th IILF was set to take place in New Zealand next year-I hope I can attend! 

An Ojibway woman led the delegates into a fun sing-along-in Cree, it was interesting that I understood the language!  The entertainment ended with lively fiddle dancing, throat singing, singing by local indigenous and non-native musicians.  

What a fun, great conclusion to a well-organized conference!