Wetaskiwin Library Board wants Alberta Municipal Affairs to make funding for First Nations services accessible by libraries directly.
Last year, the Wetaskiwin Public Library received $25,000, but it represented a portion of a provincial grant funnelled through the Yellowhead Regional Library.
“Yellowhead receives (funds) based on the number of First Nations populations in the city,” said city councillor June Boyda, who also serves as chair of the Wetaskiwin Library Board.
In a letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Shayne Anderson, Boyda expressed concern with the distribution method of the funding and also asked that the First Nations population assigned to each library or library system be reviewed.
Although the Wetaskiwin library has patrons from all four First Nations Maskwacis bands, the library is only designated to recognize Ermineskin Cree Nation and a portion of Samson Cree Nation. Patrons from Louis Bull Cree Nation and Montana First Nation do not figure into the funding statistics.
Through Indigenous funding, the Wetaskiwin library has been able to undertake a variety of services, including book clubs and early literacy programs onsite at the Nipsis Café and Collective; outreach visits to schools; working with the Pê Sâkâstêw Centre healing lodge to develop literacy within the incarcerated population; hire an Indigenous library services coordinator; and eliminate library membership fees for First Nations members.
The library has also created a new ‘Indigenous Collection’ that contains more than100 fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, and DVDs.