Supporting Indigenous language revitalization: Recommendations for public libraries

Language is inextricably entwined with culture, identity, and ways of knowing and being. In settler Canada, however, many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis languages are endangered or sleeping, as a result of historic and ongoing factors including colonization, forced assimilation, and governmental policies. This resource endeavours to provide a foundational understanding of how public library boards, administrators, and staff—in consultation with Indigenous Elders and other community members—can concretely support the language revitalization initiatives of local Indigenous communities. Five overarching categories are used to organize recommendations, which are accompanied by background information, links to supporting resources, and examples in practice.


Sarah Cairns (she/her) studied anthropology at McMaster University and is currently a second-year MLIS student at the University of Alberta. She works as a library assistant at McMaster University’s library of science and engineering and is a member of the HathiTrust Digital Library User Support Team. Her current professional interests include critical librarianship, science fiction, and intersections of technology and land-based learning in LIS. She is a settler living in Onondaga, Ontario—land within Haldimand Tract Treaty territory promised to the Six Nations of the Grand River, and traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Mississaugas of the New Credit, and Neutral People.

Melanie Forrest (she/her) studied psychology and gender studies at Athabasca University before pursuing a graduate degree in LIS online, at the University of Alberta. She is a second-generation European settler, currently living and studying on Treaty 8 territory, in northern Alberta, and works as a library assistant at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library. Her interests within LIS include critical librarianship, collaboration and community-led service, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in public libraries. She is particularly interested in working as a settler-ally to support Indigenous programming in public libraries and develop partnerships to promote Indigenous language education and revitalization.

Lo Humeniuk is a Master of Information candidate at the University of Toronto, of Ukrainian, Russian, and Scottish descent. She currently works as a library assistant at the D.G. Ivey Library at the University of Toronto (largely focusing on accessibility projects), and she also volunteers with The ArQuives. She is interested in storytelling, collections, and languages, and she currently resides in the territory of the Seneca, the Huron-Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit.

Michelle Volpe (she/her) studied archaeology and history at the University of Toronto and is now pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. She works as a consulting archaeologist across Ontario and lives in what is now known as Hamilton, in the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Mississaugas. Her professional interests lie in information accessibility, digital libraries, and information architecture