The community of Maskwacis celebrated the official opening of its first-ever permanent library on Sept. 20 at the Howard Buffalo Memorial Centre.
With the library comes access to the Alberta Public Library Network, eLibraries, access to the Internet and community programs.
The grand opening began with a drum song performed by Darren Simon.
Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson was present and gave a few remarks.
“It’s a great thing for the community, for the kids to get involved in,” said Wilson.
Lt. Governor Lois Mitchell gave a surprise appearance, donating two books to the library on physical literacy, an issue
“I have a deep love for physical literacy, for getting these children out in the fresh air,” said Mitchell.
“What I love especially is seeing these children here; it warms my heart.”
Mitchell added, “Every time I come here I’m in awe of what is happening in this community.”
Jim Johnson, who was the master of ceremony along with Jordana Littlepoplar, gave a history of how the current library came to be.
In 2018, Shirley Cire from Parkland Regional Library (PRL), reached out about starting a mobile library pilot program.
That mobile library quickly gained 300 users and evolved into the permanent fixture in the Howard Buffalo Memorial Centre.
A lot of work has since gone into making the current location inviting and functional.
The library is just the second permanent Indigenous library in Alberta, says Johnson.
Its collection of books and programs offered are reflective of the community of Maskwacis.
A few book titles on the shelves include: UNeducated: A Residential School Graphic Novel, Council of Animals, Secret Path, and On Being Here to Stay: Treaties and Aboriginal Rights in Canada.
“It’s very great we have this facility and this place for our members, the four nations of Maskwacis,” he said.
Cire, the library’s manager, says she’s very excited for this opening. Running the pop-up library was fun, but a lot of work.
She’s pleased that it will be possible to provide more consistent services now that it has a permanent space.
“We’re going to continue to grow and we hope to see you all.”
“Thank you for inviting us and letting us celebrate with you,” said Deb Smith from PRL.
“It really is a momentous occasion.”
The library is currently open one day a week, with the goal of increasing that to five days a week in the future.
Other speakers included Mario Swampy from Samson Cree Nation, Roy Louis, Knowledge Keeper for PRL and Diana Davidson, director of the Public Library Service Branch for Municipal Affairs.
Once the speakers had concluded, guests were invited to partake in refreshments, including bannock, fruits and veggies, coffee and cake.
Maskwacis is home to the Samson Cree Nation, the Ermineskin Cree Nation, the Montana Band and the Louis Bull Tribe.