Ottawa library considers signs to acknowledge Algonquin land claim

Ottawa Public Library patrons might soon be seeing new plaques and art on the walls of branches across the city.

Library wants to acknowledge branches are on unceded territory

The Ottawa Public Library is looking at ways it can carry out the Truth and Reconciliation's calls to action. (CBC)

The Ottawa Public Library is looking at putting up signs to acknowledge that Ottawa sits on the Algonquin Anishinaabe traditional territory, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action.

"It's one of the ideas we're exploring. We got the idea from the Toronto board of education who went forward and did this a number of years ago," said Monique Désormeaux, OPL's deputy CEO, in an interview with CBC Radio's All In A Day

"Part of what we're doing now is examining best practices across the country to see how best we can acknowledge we are on these traditional unceded lands."

The calls to action were released in 2015 after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent years exploring the history and legacy of Canada's residential system. The calls to action are recommendations to help Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada come together and live in mutual understanding.

"Should we go forward, they would be plaques about 8 inches by 11 inches and they would have acknowledgement statements written in Algonquin, English and French," Désormeaux said.

Other steps 

Funding for the plaques would be included in the 2019 budget, under the library's current plan.

But the library is also looking at incorporating more Indigenous art into library branches. 

"One of the benefits with amalgamation is we have access to the city's art bank, and the city itself is looking to augment its collection of Indigenous artwork created by the Indigenous community itself," she said. "We would work with them to see about bringing in some of that artwork in some of our locations as well."

They're also looking at getting more Indigenous programing in the library, she said. 

"We've been inviting survivors of residential schools who are also authors to come in and do some talks with our staff, offer programming with the public and also meet with other agencies."