Human Library Project

Human Library. Real People. Real Conversations.

What’s a Human Library? Instead of taking a book off a shelf, you spend time with a person – a human ‘book’. Ask that person some questions and learn more about his or her life.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, Thunder Bay Public Library held an event to allow people to meet with one of the human books here in Thunder Bay. Ten people were available for loans of 20 minutes each at the Waverley branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library. CBC Thunder Bay and the TBPL have teamed up to bring you this unique experience. Below are the ‘books’ that participated in the Human Library. Click on them for a sneak preview of their stories.

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Donna-Lynn Wiitala

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Donna-Lynn was born with cerebral palsy, and walking has become progressively more difficult for her. She started using a scooter to make it from class to class in her job as a french teacher. She can also use canes or a wheelchair to get around. Donna-Lynn runs her own business as a french tutor, and still finds time to works as an advocate for people with disabilities.

Aiden Kivisto

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Aiden began his transition about three years ago. He recently returned to his hometown of Thunder Bay; before he left, his name was Leah. Aiden is undergoing hormone treatment, and will eventually have surgery. He leads a support group in Thunder Bay for trans people.

Marlene Pierre

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Marlene is a member of the Fort William First Nation. In the 60s she became involved with the Indian Friendship Centre and since then she's dedicated her life to improving conditions for First Nations people in the city, especially women and children. Marlene was involved in founding such organizations as the Ontario Native Women's Association, and the Beendigen Native Women's Crisis House. She's been recognized with the Order of Ontario and the Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Michael Croft

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Mike was introduced to marijuana at the age of 8. It was the beginning of a life-long struggle with addiction. He became addicted to drugs including heroin, morphine, and oxys. In 1998 Mike began methadone treatment. After over a decade of treatment, he is now being weaned off methadone. For the last 4 years he has worked as an Outreach Worker at AIDS Thunder Bay.

Constable John Walmark

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John's been part of the Thunder Bay Police Service for over two decades. For much of that time he was part of the uniform patrol division. But when he wasn't in the police cruiser, he spent a lot of time doing community work. So it was a natural transition to his current job as an officer with the Aboriginal Liaison Unit. The Unit is tasked with bridging the gap between the police service and the Aboriginal population.

Sabeera Azhar

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For a time, Sabeera was the only girl at her current school to wear the hijab. Now seventeen, Sabeera says she's become used to strange looks, questions, and sometimes hurtful comments. But wearing the hijab is her choice.

Chantal Brochu

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In her job as a litigation lawyer, Chantal is often the face of insurance companies. Most of her work involves cases of personal injury. She says it can be tough to be a young woman in law - still a man's world. Last year Chantal was named one of the city's top 40 under 40.

Lenny Carpenter

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A Cree from the James Bay coast, Lenny grew up in Moosonee before moving to Timmins during his high school years. He moved to Thunder Bay three years ago to attend film school. He is currently a journalist with Wawatay News. Growing up, Lenny would take part in the spring goose hunt, an annual tradition in the James Bay area. He tries to maintain this cultural practice while living in urban areas.

Diana Miller   

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Diana is diagnosed with major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and anxiety. She suffered abuse as a child and began experiencing symptoms of mental illness as a teenager. At her lowest point Diana was suicidal. After the birth of her second child she decided to get help. She now heads a local organization dedicated to supporting people with mental illness.

Stefani Donohue

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Stefani got her first tattoo when she was 18, much to her mother's dismay. That first taste of ink set her on an unexpected career path. She's now an apprentice at High Tide Tatoo Parlour in Thunder Bay. At the same time she's pursuing her art degree at Lakehead University.

in partnership with Thunder Bay Public Library