Cold Lake Public Library celebrated the grand opening of a teepee in their garden space last week. The teepee is an important part of the library’s Indigenous services initiatives, said the library’s director Leslie Price.

“We wanted to have a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people feel welcomed and where everyone can learn and share the traditions of the Indigenous culture. A teepee seemed to us like the perfect fit for our project,” Price said. 

There were more than 100 people on hand for the grand opening. Price offered welcoming remarks. Cecilia Wingerter, who coordinates the library’s Indigenous services, also addressed the attendees as did Cold Lake mayor Craig Copeland.

After the speeches, Beany John performed a hoop dance combining traditional and contemporary themes. Nicole Lavallee and her children Natalia Lewis, Gage Lewis, and Grady Lewis performed traditional Métis jigs.

John was introduced by her mother Rosa John, who told the gathering that because of efforts to eradicate Indigenous culture, particularly through Indian Residential Schools, many traditions—including many dances—have been lost. She said it is important to remember that history.  

The official ribbon-cutting was followed by food and visiting.

The teepee is a major addition to the library’s garden space. Price said it will complement the library’s ongoing Indigenous services, which include an Indigenous collection that includes books written by Indigenous authors as well as DVDs and CDs. A free library card also gives patrons access to e-books, audiobooks, magazines, tutorials, and the Prairie Indigenous E-book Collection.

“We also bring the library to Indigenous communities with our outreach service, called Pop-Up Library, serving patrons at Cold Lake First Nations, Elizabeth Metis Settlement, and the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre,” Price said.

The teepee will be an important part of the library’s Indigenous programming, she said.

“We plan to continue offering the Pop-Up Library service to Indigenous communities, and in addition to this we will start running programs at the teepee focused in sharing and preserving the Indigenous culture. This will include workshops related to arts and crafts, storytelling, language, and more.”

More than 100 people celebrated the ribbon-cutting and grand opening for the library’s new teepee. JEFF GAYE
Beany John performed a hoop dance  that combined traditional and contemporary themes; while Nicole Lavallee and her kids Natalia, Gage, and Grady Lewis demonstrated Métis jigging. JEFF GAYE