LISTEN: Virtual library will keep Indigenous voices and perspectives heard

Monday, February 5th, 2018 3:33pm



By Brittney Pastion of CFWE-FM Contributor


The Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre will soon launch its virtual library, and begins a promotional Speakers Series introducing the library in First Nation schools across Alberta.

Speakers and role models Lance Cardinal, Jamie Medicine-Crane and Conway Kootenay will attend three schools in each of the three treaty areas and will roll out of the online resource.

“We're trying to get people excited about IKWC. We want people to know what’s going on,” said the centre’s interim CEO, Clayton Kootenay.

The concept of a resource that would promote the study of Indigenous history, culture, languages and values was first discussed in the 1970s, said Kootenay, and was sketched out in the document Citizens Plus, authored by the late Cree leader Harold Cardinal.

Also known as the Red Paper, Citizens Plus was the response by the Indian Association of Alberta to the 1969 federal White Paper, which Cardinal viewed as "a thinly disguised programme of extermination through assimilation", as written in his widely-respected book, The Unjust Society.

The idea of the centre and library was cemented in 2010, however, in a memorandum of understanding with Alberta Education, championed by Indigenous leaders Marilyn Buffalo and Sheena Potts, Kootenay explained.

The vision for the centre is to ignite the fire of Indigenous ancestors’ ways of knowing, acting as a repository of information and “to continue to have that authentic voice of our people,” he said.

With more than 10,000 First Nations students that attend band-operated schools, the idea is to be able to distribute valuable, culturally-relevant information to the youth from an Indigenous perspective. A virtual library was considered the best way to deliver that information so students could access resources such as eBooks, audio and video files made available online.

“We’ll make sure that our voices are heard,” Kootenay said.

The library targets a youth audience to ensure students are informed about Indigenous history from Indigenous sources, assisted by Elders, administrators, and teachers. It will eventually create land-based learning and treaty workshops.

The IKWC website is in a testing phase. The link is It’s expected to have about 100,000 resources available by March 2018, with a goal of a million files eventually.

Resources will be made available to the public at a later date, with students now the main focus. Band-operated schools will be provided with a code to access the online information.

Watch a promotional video here: