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Calgary Public Library unveils land acknowledgement plaque two-years in the making

Over the next year, patrons of the Calgary Public Library will begin to see a more physical representation of the organization’s commitment to Truth and Reconcilliation.

The library unveiled their first bronze land acknowledgement plaque at the Central Library on Saturday, with plans to unveil similar plaques at all of the libraries in Calgary over the next year.

“It’s incredibly important for us,” said Calgary Public Library CEO Sarah Meilleur.

“Calgary Public Library is a place of stories, and it’s a place of community and people. And so we really see our role being fundamentally important in helping people connect to Truth and Reconciliation.”

The land acknowledgement for the library came about from two-years of work by staff, members of the elder guidance circle, the Truth and Reconciliation stewardship group, and representatives of all of the Treaty 7 and Region 3 Metis peoples.

The plaque was designed by Indigenous artist and former CPL collections assistant Madison Tailfeathers who served on the Truth and Reconciliation stewardship group.

Calgary Public Library land acknowledgement plaque at the Central Library in Calgary on Saturday, February 25, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

More than just a plaque

Meilleur said the plaque was a physical reminder of the land that the libraries are on, but at the same time represent more than just a physical object.

“It’s a call to action for everyone in the community to think about their role in Truth and Reconciliation going forward, and what kind of community and future they want to build.” She said.

“This is the beginning of our work… and it continues to shift and adapt and change the way in which we see ourselves, and the way we see our role in community, and the way we see the ways in which we can help community engage in this work.”

Saturday’s unveiling was attended by elders and dignitaries including Elder Clarence Wolfleg and Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

Mayor Gondek thanked the library for undertaking the work to make the plaque possible.

“If we are intentional in our acknowledgement, and we are truly committed to the heavy work of reconciliation and building a future that’s inclusive, then we have to be intentional in our progress because the status quo no longer cuts it,” the mayor said.

“Your commitment to telling stories and reviving oral traditions is absolutely inspiring. Please know that you have emboldened generations to come to be good citizens.”