#10 – Breakfast with NDHR – Aboriginal Resource Centre

Kirk Macleaod, runs the Aboriginal Resource Centre, a specialized library within our building here at Native Counsellling Services of Alberta. We invited him for a conversation regarding how a library might contribute in Healing and Reconciliation and he gave us a very interesting perspective of the librarian.

What does Kirk do as librarian?

He gets material ready for staff who are deep in research and investigation. He also keeps an eye on trends occurring on the news and keeps everyone up to date with the right material. When asked what trends happened over the summer, he let us know that a there was a big issue with highschool kids and post secondary youth having troubles finding jobs to help them pay their tuitions.

Also, this past summer Donald Marshal Jr, a wrongly convicted aboriginal man, passed away, leaving quite an impact on his Mi’kmak people and Canada’s Justice System.

from: CBC
Marshall, a Mi’kmaq, was exonerated by a royal commission in 1990 that determined systemic racism had contributed to his wrongful imprisonment.

The seven-volume report pointed the finger at police, judges, Marshall’s original defence lawyers, Crown lawyers and bureaucrats.

“The criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall Jr. at virtually every turn from his arrest and wrongful conviction for murder in 1971 up to and even beyond his acquittal by the Court of Appeal in 1983,” the report said.

Back to Kirk…. and what he know best about: BOOKS!

He mentioned quite a few useful books to us in the understanding of healing and reconciliation.

“A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada” by John Ralston Saul

“Healing Traditions, The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada ” by Laurence J. Kirmayer and Gail Guthrie Valaskakis

When asked about “Healing” and how he participates and/or propagates this, his answer was quite particular to his job. “I help people with self improvement, by educating themselves. First I do a “reference interview”, where I figure out exactly what is it that they are looking for. In this interview they are most likely to focus in on the point of their research by walking them through their thoughts. The most common thing here at NCSA is people looking for emotional/psychological counselling services, then I can usually point them to their true destination.”

On “Reconciliation” he again referred to his interview process, and it’s back-and-forth-conversation until they come to an end. During our conversation, we were quick to point out to him the importance that he is in the bridging people to the right books, helping people find their solutions, or reconcile with their problems through the right material. He hadn’t recognized his participation in this, and then said “well, any effort is better than none!”.

His last words in our conversation were: “IMPROVE YOURSELF AND PEOPLE AROUND YOU WILL ALSO IMPROVE”.

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