Office of Aboriginal Initiatives
People as Books! The first Indigenous Living Library event Hosted at Laurier’s Waterloo Campus
By Margo Lee
During the week of March 3rd there were many amazing events at the Laurier Waterloo Campus, in celebration of Aboriginal Awareness Week. One of those events was a Living Library, highlighting Indigenous Stories.
What is a living library? It is a library of human books. Each individual volunteered to represent a subject that they either identify with or have knowledge about. The human books were signed out for a half hour each, by students, faculty, staff and community members. One of the comments offered as feedback was, “This was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Thanks to all the ‘books’ for their stories and conversations.”
The "Living Library" had a variety of people from our Indigenous communities. Students and guests chose from our collection of 11 human books and "read," (had an interesting, informal 30-minute conversation). People could choose to sign out: Issac Day-Traditional Healer, Melissa Patriquin-Mnaasged Native Child Welfare, Ela Smith-Wholistic Practitioner, Diane Mitchell-Mi’kmaq Language, Kalin Stacey- Indigenous Ally, Shawn Johnston- Two-spirited, Lila Bruyere-Residential School Survivor, Gus Hill- Indigenous Scholar, Darren Thomas-Indigenous Scholar, Gale Cyr-Elder and Paige Sillaby-Indigenous Student. The Living Library: Indigenous Stories was a group project developed and organized by Wilfrid Laurier University - Master of Social Work-Aboriginal Field of Study (MSW-AFS) students. This project was developed as part of the course: Diversity, Marginalization and Oppression.
Laurier’s Waterloo campus library hosted the event on Thursday March 6th. It was a full day event that had great success. Many people signed out the human books and one professor brought her entire class. The Aboriginal Student Centre (ASC) was a wonderful support to the success of the event. The ASC has the intention to bring back the Living Library again next year as an annual Aboriginal Awareness Week event. In addition, the Laurier Library and LSPIRG were also a great support to the success of this event and we are thankful to have such important partnerships.