Inspiring information professionals to indigenize practices

After the International Indigenous Librarian’s Forum in Winnipeg in August, Māori Librarian, Anahera Morehu, stopped in Vancouver on August 10. Anahera is the Library Manager for Arts, Māori and Pacific at the University of Auckland, and she travels and presents at many indigenous forums. The purpose of her visit was to inspire information professionals to seek greater understanding on how to take steps towards indigenizing the information practices. UBC Library coordinated a public lecture with Anahera as part of their centennial programming series.

In addition to the public lecture, Anahera offered a morning workshop, hosted by the Museum of Anthropology’s Audrey and Harry Hawthorn Library and Archives. The workshop was for invited indigenous information professionals to discuss their roles in supporting institutional changes towards increased awareness and consideration of indigenous worldviews, specifically in regards to collection stewardship. Anahera provided participants with a framework for approaching management, exploring methods for increasing participation of indigenous perspectives in library practices, and engaging with local Indigenous people. Participants were encouraged to plan an event between their institution’s administrations and the Indigenous people on whose territory each of our institutions are on.

Following the workshop, the BCLA First Nations Interest Group and the UBC iSchool’s First Nations Curriculum Concentration co-hosted a potluck lunch at the museum. Non-Indigenous students and information workers met with Anahera and learned strategies for being an effective ally for their indigenous colleagues. Native Youth Program participants from MOA joined the lunch to share their summer activities to date.

Anahera’s public lecture, Housing the knowledge of tangata whenua (indigenous people), was held in the afternoon in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. UBC’s Longhouse Elder, Larry Grant, welcomed everyone to the traditional territory of the Musqueam First Nation. Anahera emphasized the importance of strong relationships with Indigenous peoples. She offered a rich discussion about respectful care for indigenous materials, and stressed developing policies and procedures for indigenous collections. These policies, for example, can guide professionals through what potential concerns there may be with digitizing cultural material and making it available without proper community consultation beforehand. Sometimes there may be reasons why items should be digitally and/or physically preserved with limited, or no, public access.

For the full dialogue, visit the recording of Anahera’s public presentation, available online via the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s webcasts portal.


Sarah Dupont is the Aboriginal Engagement Librarian at Xwi7xwa Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia. Her role at UBC Library includes providing reference and instruction services, outreach, and programming, in addition to managing the Indigitization program. She has been the BCLA’s First Nations Interest Group convener since 2012.