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'Reclamation of identity': Sask. libraries updating terminology to reflect Truth and Reconciliation

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Saskatchewan’s libraries are working to update the way people search for information, related to Indigenous peoples.

The work is led by Saskatchewan’s Multitype Library Board, a group appointed by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education, representing the province’s 300 public libraries, along with school, post-secondary, and special libraries.

Dale Storie is the Chair of the Multitype Library Board.

"The subject headings, related to Indigenous perspectives, are often outdated or unfortunately offensive or in some cases,” she told CTV News. “We wanted to make sure to do this in consultation with the Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan."

Lori Whiteman is a member of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, living in Treaty 4 Territory in Regina. She’s the owner and president of Braid Consulting.

She worked with the library board on the Saskatchewan Indigenous Subject Headings Project. The project is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

"What Truth and Reconciliation, the inquiry, revealed was information that sort of shocked people into a realization that there was so much about the land we live on, the communities we live in, the places we work, live and play, that we didn't know about," Whiteman said.

The process of coming up with updated subject headings first got underway in 2020, with pandemic delays, the engagement process began in 2022.

"It's coming from a colonial system, where a central body says, these are the terms you use, these are what’s correct, and that's not our world anymore," Storie said.

"How can we engage in places, colonial structures that we have maybe in the past felt not welcomed in such as libraries and archives," Whiteman explained.

Indigenous language groups from across the province shared input to help create the completed list, which is published on the Multitype Libraries website.

"It was really emotional and in some ways spiritual work to be part of it, to have the conversations with people from all regions of our province, based on their language, based on their reclamation of identity, based on their own healing," Whiteman said.

"One of the terms that was in there, historical term, was related to the Red River Rebellion, and so, one of the updates to that, is that it's now referred to as the Red River Resistance in our system," Storie explained.

The Multitype Library Board has implemented an annual review process to keep up with languages that are ever-evolving.

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