Canadian Premier Rachel Notley has announced a $1 million commitment to the Indigenous Language Resource Center at Calgary’s new Central Library. The Indigenous Center in Alberta will be part of a program aimed at teaching the languages of the Cree, Blackfoot, Stoney Nakoda, Tsuut’ina and Michif.The center is slated to open this year, and coincide with the United Nations’ declaration of 2019 as the year of Indigenous languages.
“As a result of
the residential schools, the end of language and the attack on
language was a fundamental piece of what went wrong and so this is
just a step forward in trying to change that direction and do
better,” Notley said in a public press event at the library’s
auditorium. The announcement was marked by a Blackfoot blessing by
Elder Martin Heavy Head.
The center will
focus on “elder guidance, storytelling, language learning, and
reclamation,” said Notley. Sarah Meilleur, director of service
delivery, added that the center will work closely with the library’s
elder’s guidance circle, and have consultation with Indigenous
stakeholders for “Indigenous place-making” at the Central
Library. A space on the library’s fourth floor will be reserved for
the Indigenous language programming, including storytelling, language
lessons, conversations, and writing circles.
The library, which
was a $248-million project, opened November of 2018. The
240,000-square-foot building houses 450,000 items and features 30
community rooms, a performance hall, restaurant and cafe. There’s
also a recording studio and children’s area.