Sunday, 26 November 2017

Sunday November 26, 2017 Giving Yourself a Gift for Christmas

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us and in-between all the things you need to do and buy, it’s important to carve out some time for yourself.  Whether you choose to spend a quiet evening with a book, go for a walk or some other form of exercise, watch a good movie or just sit by a fire and let your mind drift, taking regular breaks is important to both mind and body.  For some folks their time of calm is when they are engaging in a craft, be it big or small.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Creative EngAging Arts Fair that was sponsored by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and was stunned at the variety of skills and talents that reside within the city. I’ve never been a true crafter, though faithfully each couple of years, I buy all the supplies necessary to create something, and in relatively short order it ends up in one of the many UFO (unfinished objects bins) in my cold room.

One of the most surprising thing about the Arts fair were that many of the craft ideas could be completed in a single session and you would still receive an attractive result. The stonework, weaving and printmaking participants, in particular, took home lovely pieces and built skills that they could use on larger projects. I was inspired enough to search the stacks at the library for simple, one session crafts and found crafts for every taste and skill level. Many of the books I found use found objects, that are already in the house and with the importance of reusing and recycling objects for the environment being able to find new uses for things is a must. An added bonus at this time of year, is handmade gifts are the nicest to receive. They are also a great way to spend time as a family or friends, so if you are looking for something to do with your grandchildren, or something different to do with a group of relative strangers, simple crafts make a good choice.

As a cat person, “Cattastic crafts: DIY projects for cats and cat people” by Mariko Isikawa, features a number of simple, and easy crafts for the cat or cat lover in your life and “Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects by Kat Roberts immediately caught my eye.

Seasonal crafting books like, “Making Winter: A Hygee-Inspired Guide to Surviving theWinter Months” by Emma Mitchell, “100 Little Christmas Gifts to Make” by the authors of Search Press and the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: ChristmasCrafts, Recipes and Activities” by Shay Brandy, all contain a wide variety of fun, easy and beautiful craft ideas.

Another popular theme is upcycling, which is reusing and recycling found materials rather than buying new and a number of new books on this theme that are available at the library including; “Upcycling: 20 Creative Projects Made from reclaimed materials” by Max McMurdo, “Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds,Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love” by Blair Stocker and “DIYMason Jars: Thirty-five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container” by Melissa Avenrions.

Dad’sBook of Awesome Projects: From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boards andSeesaws, 25+ Fun do-it-yourself projects for families” by Mike Adamick and “DIY,Dammit!: A Practical Guide to Curse-Free Crafting” by Joselyn Hughes and “TheStar Trek Craft Book” by Angie Pederson, are great titles about having fun in process and not worrying about the end results. Of course if there isn’t time before the holidays, winters in Northwestern Ontario are long so perhaps the crafting bug will bite you next year.

Lori Kauzlarick

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.