Sep 13, 2022
A Library Like No Other Highlights Indigenous Tragedy with Heartbreakingly Beautiful Books
The travelling Canadian Library will bring awareness, conversation and change to communities across Canada
September 24, Unionville, Ontario: At a time when Canadians and the world are acknowledging the deep, long wounds caused by Canada’s widespread abuse of its Indigenous peoples, a new travelling art installation — commemorating the First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and children who have been murdered or gone missing— will travel to communities nationwide as a catalyst for greater awareness, conversation and change.
The Canadian Library is a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous creators and nonprofits that aims to remind Canadians that every missing and murdered Indigenous woman and child has a story, by printing their names on the spines of books that have been individually handwrapped in original, Indigenous-designed fabrics. Presented in bookshelves, the books form a dazzling and diverse showcase of Indigenous design, and are the first Canadian library dedicated to this national tragedy.
The public will be able to take in the deeply emotional display at various locations, including public and civic institutions and IKEA stores, while also learning the stories of those named on the books through the Library’s website. The Library’s goal is 8,000 wrapped books, which will reside in a yetto-be-determined public setting.
“My vision for The Canadian Library was to help start important conversations and educate each other about the true history of Canada, with a living art installation that every Canadian could participate in. Only with the truth being shared can true reconciliation happen.”
— Shanta Sundarason, team lead.
The Canadian Library will make its formal public debut at an event hosted by its originators, an Unionville, Ontario-based non-profit - The Giving Tree Unionville, on:
September 24th (Saturday) at 3pm
Presenters include Ms. Sundarason as well as a notable group of Indigenous elders who will meet for the first time:
linda manyguns, associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University in Calgary;
Mim Harder, Grandmother and educator of Canada’s true history;
Mary Kelly, a survivor of Canada’s residential school system; and
Sandra Moore, Indigenous artist and owner/ operator of Creators Gifts in Hiawatha First Nation, Ontario.
“When I was first approached by the Canadian Library I was shocked to discover that women, other than other Indigenous women, care about our MMIWG and children. As an Indigenous woman I am honoured to have the privilege of working with these allies and sisters, in this unique and powerful way to pay respect to our MMIWG and raise awareness among all Canadians. The history and truth about Indigenous people is a dark stain on Canada, and this project starts to give colour to the stain.”
— Sandra Moore, Hiawatha First Nation, Ontario
In addition to viewing the Library in their communities, the public can contribute to the non-profit project through donations or purchases that cover programming and fabric costs, donating hardcover books to be wrapped, and volunteering. Installations are initially planned for the following sites, with dozens more installations across Canada planned; a full and evolving list and dates, as well as donation opportunities, is available at thecanadianlibrary.ca :
Varley Gallery, Unionville, Ontario
IKEA stores across Canada
King City Museum, King City, Ontario
Niagara Falls Library, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, Ontario
Richmond Hill Public Library, Ontario
Mount Royal University, Calgary
Oak Valley Health (previously Markham Stouffville Hospital), Ontario
Numerous public schools and office buildings across Canada
Media and materials contact: Shanta Sundarason, Team Lead.