The collaboration between the McGill chapter of Librarians Without Borders (LWB) and the Native Friendship Centre (NFC) of Montréal centres on the importance of connecting Indigenous communities with Indigenous literature and film. When LWB first formed a partnership with the Native Friendship Centre in autumn 2014, we were asked to find ways to promote literacy within the Indigenous community in Montréal, specifically through developing resources and programming at the NFC. We began by developing a small library for youth who frequent the NFC, with a focus on graphic novels and children’s books written by Indigenous authors. These materials often grapple with histories and experiences undergone by Indigenous communities in ways that are at once complex and accessible to younger readers. However, we’ve since realized that occasional visits by LWB to the NFC library are not enough to continue developing a sustainable relationship with the urban Indigenous community.
In autumn 2015, our LWB chapter initiated weekly film showings in the NFC’s youth centre for young adults, again focusing on films made by and about Indigenous communities. Following the viewing itself, the participants, NFC animators, and LWB volunteers discuss any thoughts stirred by the film. Several participants have come to the viewings every week, and give us feedback on the different films. For instance, they have repeatedly expressed interest in learning about Indigenous communities from other parts of the world, and discussing how they are similar to or different than those in Montréal and Québec. As time goes on, the LWB chapter will purchase selected films to add to the NFC’s library for long-term access.
LWB has also partnered with a small library in the Katavic School Board that focuses on resources for learning Inuktitut. Through this collaboration we have learned a lot about the importance of language preservation and the role librarians can play in making these resources available.
In the future, LWB McGill would like to continue supporting initiatives both locally and internationally to assist Indigenous communities and help connect them with the various resources they need and want to use.