We are thrilled to welcome Siggy Leslie-Casselman to the team at Brockville Public Library as our new Indigenous Ways & Decolonization Coordinator, a position generously funded by the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund through the Brockville and Area Community Foundation. This role was created with the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action in mind, and is a major part of the Brockville Public Library’s commitment to action towards reconciliation. Read below for an introduction in Siggy’s own words, and some details about the work she will be doing here at the Library.
What is Decolonization?
The Brockville and area community is located on/in the Mohawk territory of the Haudenosaunee/Rotinonhsho’n:ni people and the unceded, traditional Algonquin territory of the Anishinaabe people. This is covered by the Crawford Purchase Treaty (1783).
Decolonization requires an understanding of Indigenous people’s history and the consequences of that history. It is the continuing process of critically examining and challenging beliefs, values, and structures that purposefully erase or devalue Indigenous people and knowledge systems.
Canada was built on the displacement of Indigenous people. Colonization in Canada happened when European nations dismantled Indigenous populations, culture, religion and laws by taking away Indigenous knowledge systems, worldviews and ways of knowing and living.
Decolonization is a response to the many barriers Indigenous people have faced since first contact and continue to face today. Indigenous people are highly impacted by poverty, hunger, poor living conditions, poor health, high rates of unemployment, high rates of suicide, low rates of education, and more. Indigenous women and girls are 5 times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada.
Public libraries, as community hubs and information centres, are well positioned to be strong advocates in these efforts, through information sharing and educational resources. By bringing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together, this new role will strive to make Brockville a better place to live for all community members. While tremendous harm has been inflicted on Indigenous communities, all Canadians benefit from decolonization; we have all been long deprived of Indigenous knowledge that stands to make our communities healthier and more equitable for all.
My Goal as Decolonization and Indigenous Ways Coordinator
My name is Siggy. I am Cree with European ancestors, part of Treaty 6, and displaced from my band in Lac Laronge, Saskatchewan. I grew up along the St. Lawrence for the majority of my life, and have learned to walk in two worlds. I am passionate about bridging the knowledge gap between two different ways of knowing.
This unique role at the Library will allow for the opportunity to connect with the Brockville community and to deepen the understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing, understanding the impacts of colonization – past, present and future. I look forward to bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members in this role, developing strategies for knowledge sharing in safe spaces and responding to the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I look forward to creating connections and walking the path of two-eyed seeing for future generations. “Two-Eyed Seeing refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of, or the best in, the Indigenous knowledge’s and ways of knowing, and from the other eye learning to see with the strengths of, or the best in, the Western (mainstream) knowledge’s and ways of knowing, but, most importantly, learning to use both these eyes together, for the benefit of all.” Two-Eyed seeing implies responsibilities for reciprocity, mutual accountability, and co-learning.
My first priority in this new role is to gather community feedback. Have your say in shaping our 2024 plans by taking our short survey to let us know what kinds of programs, events and workshops most interest you.