THE BATTLEFORDS — The North Battleford Public Library is going to be celebrating Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month with a bang this year after receiving two grants of over $18,000 combined from Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) earlier this month.
"We are, of course, always planning our events in February to celebrate Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month ... this year, we're excited because we are having Richard Van Camp come to the library in February," Colin Evans, the head librarian told the News-Optimist on Monday, Jan. 22.
Richard Van Camp, a member of the Tłı̨chǫ Dene from Fort Smith in the North West Territories and a renowned Indigenous author attended a meeting of the library's inaugural Indigenous book club in 2023 via Zoom.
But this year Van Camp will attend in person and will feature a half-day of activities and celebration with the author on Feb. 21.
The free event, which is open to the public will include:
- A children's storytelling event from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.,
- lunch from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.,
- a creative writing workshop from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.,
- supper from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.,
- and a storytelling event, Gather: Miracle Stories, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
"Well, it's a huge deal for the library," Evans said when asked about the grant from BATC that will help support Van Camp's attendance in February.
"We wouldn't have been able to host this event without their very generous support," he said, adding that the Co-op Kids Club and Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples Inc. are also supporting the event.
Evans noted that BATC has also given the library $10,000 for much-needed theatre upgrade projects, coming together for a total grant of $18,750.
"While it was state of art when the library was built [in the 1980s] it's no longer state of the art, [and in] dire need of upgrading," Evans said, explaining the Theatre Room's audio system utilizes a record and a tape cassette player.
"But not only that, due to its age, it's also had reliability issues. For example, we had a film showing in partnership with the BATC, featuring a film by Floyd Favel. And the sound stopped in the middle of the film [and] we had to restart it, which is rather embarrassing for the library," Evans said.
Evans told the News-Optimist that the speaker system is unreliable with the microphone sometimes cutting out, along with unpleasant sound quality that will be resolved when the room is upgraded.
Evans did note that there is no timeline currently for the revitalization project
"We also want to upgrade what the room can do. So we want to have state-of-the-art equipment there so it can be sort of a meeting room for the community, so you can schedule your annual general meeting ... and make it available to everyone in the public."
When asked how the library felt about having received the grant, Evans said he was at a loss for words.
"Just super grateful, super thankful and really happy. I think it shows the important role that BATC has in the community, supporting local groups in town also they feel that the library is very important and our role in the community is very important.
"I think it's a good investment to make for the community."
Tracy Benson, the general manager of Community Development Corporation (CDC) at BATC, told the News-Optimist that they're happy to help support the library as they build relationships in the Battlefords.
"We support [the library] because that's a place where we can always get ... resources for the children, ourselves, any technology that we need that we don't have," she said.
Benson added that it's something that brings the community together.
"Well, we're always supporting the development of healthy communities," Benson added, noting that it's something that brings the community together.
"And that makes us feel good, being able to help the nonprofit organizations in the Battlefords, especially [those] that are non-Aboriginal or non-Indigenous ... building partnerships in a really supportive and positive way."
As for Van Camp coming to the library next month, Benson said that BATC is absolutely excited.
"He is a well-renowned author and his books are really, really well written and yeah, just look forward to meeting him and seeing what his message is."