Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sunday November 19, 2017 ‘Tis The Season of Preparation

The appearance of festive decorations in stores, which seems to happen earlier and earlier each year,  reminds us that Christmas is approaching. With a little planning, you can save time and money, and gift yourself a stress-free holiday season.  And your Library can help!
If your budget is tight, or you just don’t want to give someone more *stuff*, give them the gift of your time. Your Library offers a wide variety of free programs for children and adults. Make a gift certificate with a promise to take a child to see a puppet show, story time or concert. Many people would welcome an invitation from a friend to attend a colouring night or book club meeting together. The Library’s next newsletter, with listings of upcoming programs will be delivered to all homes in the City the first week of January. The Library’s Web site ( has a calendar of events under “Get Involved”. You could also create a gift certificate to bring someone to the Library a few times a month, and help them find books, movies or music they enjoy.
We have a lot of books to help you make gifts. The Christmas Lover’s Handbook by Lasley F. Gober includes a very helpful chapter called “Making Merry: Handcrafting a Merry Christmas.” As Gober notes: “You don’t have to be an artist, a highly-skilled craftsman, or even a graduate of a six-week night course to know how to create something yourself, something you might even be proud of.” This book includes step-by-step instructions for sculptures, candle-making, papier-mache and much more.
Gifts in jars : homemade cookie mixes, soup mixes, candles, lotions, teas, and more! by Natalie Wise in jam-packed with fun ideas which are easy to make.  Make a “plant bomb” jar with your favorite flower seeds or an adorable terrarium featuring easy-to-grow air plants. Pamper your friends with a manicure kit or mint mojito lip scrub. Glass jars are easy to come by, cute, and incredibly versatile. Fill them with customized treasures to delight anyone on your list.  This book includes instructions to make a Light-Up Fairy Jar, Hot Fudge Topping, Bird Feeder and more!
We also have books to help you wrap: The art of gift wrapping : 50 innovative ideas using organic, unique, and uncommon materials by Wanda Wen ca help!  From organic and eco-friendly wraps to lush and romantic presentations, the more than 50 projects and ideas contained in this book will remind you that it is as much fun to wrap as it is to receive.  
Looking for your favourite holiday movie?  We likely have it on DVD or available through the streaming service hoopla.  My personal favourite, A Christmas Story, tells the tale of nine year old Ralphie, whose heart’s desire is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle. This movie is a heartwarming glimpse in to family life in the 1940s. Save money by borrowing videos from the Library instead of renting them – at Christmas and throughout the year.
During this season of preparation the Library is accepting donations of non-perishable food items. All donations will be directed to Christmas Cheer and the Salvation Army Food Bank.  Please bring non-perishable food items to any library branch by December 30.  As an added incentive, $1 in Library fines will be waived for each food item donated! Help yourself -- and help the community too!
Joanna Aegard 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sunday November 12, 2016 Seven Fallen Feathers

Anyone who has read Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga cannot fail to be moved by this hard hitting story of ‘racism, death, and hard truths in a northern city.’ Tanya is an excellent investigative journalist who, in simple lucid prose, gets beyond the headlines regarding the death of seven Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay.

Tanya was in town recently and presented a signed copy of her book to the permanent collection of Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL). At this event she talked about the need for a final chapter to her book – a chapter of hope and healing for the future. And I told Tanya that TBPL will be taking a lead role in helping to write that story.

The TBPL board has approved a strategy and action plan on ‘Relationship Building and Reconciliation’ with the Indigenous community. This is an ambitious five year plan to look at everything we do at TBPL – from strategy and structure to systems and culture – to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the Indigenous community. In doing so, we will make TBPL a more inclusive service, which will benefit everyone who uses it.

According to Statistics Canada, Thunder Bay has the highest proportion of Indigenous people of any major Canadian community at 12.7 per cent. That is 15,445 Indigenous people out of a total population of 121,621. And this community is also the fastest growing in Canada, with a 42.5 per cent increase since 2006.

Traditional use of libraries – via personal visits and physical circulation of books – is in decline across Canada. This has been more than made up for by the explosion in virtual use. For example, at TBPL, the total number of uses of the library has increased from 2.7 million to 3.2 million over the past ten years. But, during the same time period, personal visits to the library have fallen by 32.1%, and physical circulation has decreased by 30.7%. At the same time, virtual use of the library has gone up by 187.7% and database searches have increased by 358.6%.

We need to engage more fully with the Indigenous community if we are to increase personal visits and physical circulation. We need more people coming into our libraries and taking out books and other materials. Currently 29 per cent of Thunder Bay residents have a library card and have used it in the last 12 months. We need this figure to increase to 40, 50 and 60 percent.

Our strategy for achieving this is two-fold. First, we are transforming our libraries into Community Hubs, which will offer a wide range of educational, cultural, recreational and social services. These will include maker spaces, business incubators, nature trading stations, youth projects and social workers in residence.

And second, we are responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the local Inquest into the ‘Seven Fallen Feathers’, through relationship building and reconciliation. W are taking decolonisation seriously and not as a metaphor. Like other institutions in the city, most notably the Chronicle Journal, we have a responsibility to take community leadership in combating racism and challenging the negative stereotypes, myths, inaccuracies and distortions that are associated with the Indigenous community.

We have a bold vision that TBPL ‘will become the heart of the community – a welcoming and inclusive centre of social innovation and change.’ It is now time to put that vision into action, and to walk the talk.     

John Pateman   

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sunday November 5, 2017 Seven Fallen Feathers

On October 31, the Thunder Bay Public Library welcomed Tanya Talaga, author of the book Seven Fallen Feathers : Racism, Death and HardTruths in a Northern City. She was in the city to host an important event at the Dennis Cromarty High School, but had been invited to meet with librarians, directors, Board members, the Indigenous liasions for the City and the Library and interested members of the public about her powerful book, and she signed a copy for the Library’s permanent collection.

This is a book that everyone should read. Talaga, who is an investigative reporter and author, tells the story of the seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay between 2000 to 2011. It is a difficult read, and a profound story which even the author still cries over when she rereads certain portions. Beyond the shocking news, beyond the statistics and the rumours and the investigations, this is a story of seven young people who travelled to Thunder Bay with all the hope of their families going with them because there is no adequate upper schooling for them at home. One by one, you learn the individual’s stories of their last day and the reactions of the families, friends, other students, searchers, communities and other persons and agencies who interact after the tragedies. With a meticulous eye for detail and a sensitive and nuanced understanding which comes from the author’s own roots being in Fort William First Nation and having spent her summer here, Talaga describes a city and culture impaired by the legacy of years of racism, poverty, neglect and violence. This is a book which will grip you, make you think and help you understand better what has led up to the horrific experiences of young people cut down too soon. It connects the local experience to the larger experience of Canada and is a cry for justice, human rights and respect. The cover of the book features a poignant painting by Christian Morriseau depicting the seven fallen feathers. One of those feathers, is Kyle, the artist’s own son. Like the author’s words, this painting is a requiem for the fallen. Each one lived in hope, was a unique and beloved soul, and each one is remembered by those left behind. Through this book, which is nominated for the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction, you can meet the seven, and be inspired and encouraged by the sharing of their stories to work for justice, harmony and a better future for everyone. The book is available at your library for borrowing and also will soon be available as a book club in a bag with ten copies for sharing.  

Angela Meady

Author Tanya Tagala, front center, at TBPL, with Library staff and Board members, and City of Thunder Bay staff.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sunday October 29th, 2017 International Festival of Authors

The International Festival of Authors (IFOA)’s Lit On Tour is once again coming to Thunder Bay! This year, Lakehead University, the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW), the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, CBC Radio and the Thunder Bay Public Library have all partnered with the IFOA, bringing four authors to our region on October 30th to read from their latest works at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. We’re bringing in a great line up of Canadian authors this year: Gary Barwin, the author of Yiddish for Pirates; Terry Fallis, the author of The Best Laid Plans; Grace O’Connell, the author of Magnified World; and Thunder Bay’s Jean E. Pendziwol, author of Once Upon a Northern Night. Here’s a little more about each of these authors (courtesy of the Lit On Tour site,

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist and the author of twenty-one books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His recent books include Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award shortlisted Yiddish for Pirates and the poetry collection Moon Baboon Canoe. Barwin teaches creative writing in the Mohawk College Continuing Education program and will be the writer-in-residence at McMaster University and the Hamilton Public Library for 2017–2018. Born in Northern Ireland to South African parents of Ashkenazi descent, Barwin moved to Canada as a child. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Terry Fallis earned an engineering degree from McMaster University. Drawn to politics, he worked for cabinet ministers at Queen’s Park and Ottawa. His first novel, The Best Laid Plans, began as a podcast, then was self-published, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, was re-published by McClelland & Stewart to great reviews, was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads as “the essential Canadian novel of the decade,” and became a CBC Television series. His next two novels, The High Road and Up and Down were finalists for the Leacock Medal, and in 2015, he won the prize a second time for his fourth book, No Relation. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons. He will be presenting One Brother Shy.

Grace O’Connell is the author of The Globe and Mail Best Book Magnified World and 2014 winner of the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing, and her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, The Globe and Mail, National Post and Elle Canada. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto and works as a freelance writer and editor. She will be presenting Be Ready For The Lightning.

Jean E. Pendziwol was born in Thunder Bay and spent much of her childhood aboard her family’s sailboat. After working as a freelance writer and photographer, she spent several years raising her three children before publishing her first book for young people. She is now the author of eight children’s books. She was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for Once Upon a Northern Night, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. She lives in Ontario with her husband, two of her three adult children, a lovable mutt and three temperamental chickens, who sometimes lay eggs. She will be presenting The Lightkeeper’s Daughters.

For more information on this event, please visit the IFOA’s Lit on Tour site at You can also visit the Thunder Bay Public Library’s blog, TBPL Off the Shelf (, to read interviews with each of these authors

I hope we’ll see you at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery tomorrow evening to hear these authors read from their new work. The event starts at 7pm.

Shauna Kosoris