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A Place to Start: Engaging Indigenous Communities

Indigenous resources for public library staff working in British Columbia

What Does Indigenous-Led Programming Look Like?

The Indigenous Heritage Action Plan prepared by Library Archives and Canada (LAC) urges libraries to prioritize engagement and collaboration with Indigenous communities to ensure historically and culturally accurate representation. For librarians, this means a "nothing for us without us" approach, where Indigenous communities are consulted and considered regularly. The following LAC recommendations can be applied when developing new programs and services: 

  • Develop engagement strategies that consider cultural protocol and respect the cultures and practices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation

  • Provide sufficient human resources for outreach efforts

  • Partner and collaborate with Indigenous-led institutions and organizations

There is no "one size fits all" approach to Indigenous community engagent and librarians must begin by familiarizing themselves with adjacent Indigenous communities and developing an engagement strategy.


Creating an Engagement Strategy

Creating a preliminary engagement plan will allow you to determine the objectives and outcomes of Indigenous community engagement.

Remember, although a plan is a great place to start, relationship-building is not a structured or a dictated processHere are some examples of great Indigenous engagement stragies:

Each strategy will vary depending on the proposed initiative and the Indigenous communities involved.

Examples of Indigenous Engagement

Webinar Series: Meaningful Engagement With Indigenous Communities

Community Engagement Assessment Toolkit

There are a number of questions to consider throughout the planning and engagement process, including:

  1. Are Indigenous Protocols being followed and respected throughout the engagement process?

  2. Are Indigenous communities being compensated for their participation, consultation, and input?

  3. How will the feedback be applied to library services and programs?

  4. How is the engagement process benefiting Indigenous communities? Are services, programs and initiatives being developed for and in consultation with Indigenous Peoples?

  5. Will the communities be included in the decision-making process?

  6. How will Indigenous communities be involved throughout the implementation stages? Will their feedback be solicited at every stage of the process?

  7. How will your organization maintain the established relationship with Indigenous communities and ensure that decision-making takes place collaboratively in the long term?

Examples of Positive Engagement Outcomes