Edmonton Public Library announces 2021 Elder in Residence

"As a highly regarded Elder, cultural educator and artist, who has provided tremendous guidance to EPL over the years, Elder Saddleback brings Indigenous wisdom, invaluable knowledge and lived experience that will guide and support EPL’s efforts to provide meaningful services and programming to our customers.”



The Edmonton Public Library has announced Elder Jo-Ann Saddleback from the Saddle Lake Cree First Nation as EPL’s 2021 Elder in Residence and the first Elder in Residence to maintain residency in PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN (Thunderbird House) at Stanley A. Milner Library.

EPL’s Elder in Residence program launched in 2017 as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and acknowledgement of the City of Edmonton’s Urban Aboriginal Declaration. EPL values, recognizes and depends on the Elder in Residence to support its efforts to provide knowledge sharing and access for all Edmontonians around education, understanding and dialogue as it relates to reconciliation.


“I am here to bring our stories to the Library; let it not be supposed that we did not have written word because we do, we have a profound kinship to written text through Cree syllabics, which contain all of our language, all of our beliefs, and all of our stories. This is why some of them are on the windows of PÎYÊSÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN depicting the name of the space. It is through stories that we find these shared experiences on which we can build on and find kinship.”

- Elder Jo-Anne Saddleback


Elder Saddleback will serve a one-year term supporting EPL throughout 2021. During her residency, she aims to facilitate inclusive connections between Edmonton’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Her initiatives include: inviting the Indigenous Elder and Knowledge Keeper community of Edmonton into PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN to conduct ceremony and to share cultural stories; offering her wisdom through group and one-on-one meetings with customers; inspiring Indigenous people to use the Library; and advising EPL staff on their work as they continue to develop Indigenous services and classes and events.

Elder Saddleback will be working from PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN three days a week to facilitate meetings with customers. However due to current health guidelines, one-on-one and group sessions will take place virtually.

For more information, visit epl.ca/elder-in-residence.  



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