OHSWEKEN – The new Six Nations Library and Archive will have to wait a little longer thanks to the federal Aboriginal Affairs office who informed Six Nations that they will not receive funding as expected.
“The main government grant we were hoping for was the Conservatives new Action Plan, but they did not include the ‘culture’ sector as being eligible,” says Sabrina Saunders, Six Nations head librarian.
“Other non-Native communities are getting libraries through the gas tax fund, but we ran into the snag that the gas tax fund regarding First Nations goes through AANDC,” she explains.“They created their own criteria which is different from the rest of Canada. Every Canadian municipality, county and local government chooses how they use the gas tax fund, and culture is one of the options, but not here. Therefore, Six Nations can’t make that choice and AANDC will not help fund it.”
With an estimated $15 million facility, $5 million of that which has already been raised by on reserve donations, there is still along way to go to reach that target.
“We are still plugging away and still working on writing our grant applications and moving forward,” Saunders says. “One way or another we have to get this library.”
To many, including Saunders, this new library is not a want, but rather a need for the Six Nations community. The building they are currently located in is a converted house that is more than 125-years-old, located on Chiefswood road next to the Six Nations Administration Building. It was once the home and office of the local doctor before finally becoming home to the library.
AODA requirements call for wheelchair access for public buildings, which has added to the projected costs of a new facility. The present library has a wooden ramp to the front door but no handicap access to the second floor.
“We are in a building that just can’t house what we do,” says Saunders. “We have children and seniors who can’t make it to the second floor. We have more than half of our collection in storage because there is no room for it. We have archival materials that we can’t properly store. We can’t do a lot of programing because there is not enough room for it.”