Hundreds of people have picked up library cards in a southern Alberta community that is home to the first public library on a First Nation in the province.
There are hundreds of books lining the shelves at the Kainai Public Library in Standoff on the Blood Tribe’s reserve. Card holders have access to thousands more through the Chinook Arch Regional Library System.
“It's actually very nice to have a library on the reserve we can go to,” said Grade 9 student Quincy Davis.
Anyone can get a card at the library and the goal is to get everyone on the reserve to sign up for one. The fees are waived for all students. Others pay a fee of $5 per person or $15 per family.
Library manager Linda Weasel Head said it's a huge step forward for her community.
"Literacy and poverty go hand in hand so as soon as you get a society — a community — that has high literacy levels, poverty goes down."
The library also has a growing collection of First Nations' literature, which makes committee member Hali Heavy Shield proud.
"We have a really rich history of culture and story telling and literacy in terms of language and song and our traditions and we wanted just to bring books into that."
The Kainai Public Library opened in February. Later this month it's getting bigger when it moves into a brand new building — a healthy living centre where people can also have access to exercise equipment and nutritious food.
While the Kainai library is a first for Alberta reserves, a public library that would be accessible to the four First Nations in the Hobbema area recently opened its doors. There is also a public library in Paddle Prairie, a Métis settlement in northern Alberta.
A previous version of this story said the Blood Tribe covers the card fee for people who live on the reserve. In fact, the fees are waived for students. Others pay a fee of $5 per person or $15 per family.Nov 05, 2013 12:40 PM MT