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.