On the south shore of Montreal lies the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve. Although there are numerous economic ventures and places to socialize on the reserve, there is one thing sorely lacking. A library.
A library is one of the most important aspects in helping a child further his or her education, along with broadening their view of the world at large. This is especially true on a reserve, where people tend to be more comfortable in their own homes than they are venturing out to the big city.
For those who are interested in borrowing educational or recreational material, they either have to pay exorbitant fees at a library far away from the comfort of home, or borrow from school. Neither options are as appealing as having your very own library smack dab in the middle of town.
That’s where Skawenni:io Barnes, who was chosen as Cosmogirl of the year, comes in. Skawenni:io, which means “one beautiful word,” hopes to apply to an Ivy League school when she graduates from Sacred Heart in Montreal. She, along with many other volunteers, has been working very hard to get a library going in Kahnawake.
It all started off with Skawenni:io writing a letter to the local paper, The Eastern Door which is what got the ball rolling when people realized the importance of a library. One of the examples of community support was when the library committee, headed by Kim Delormier, asked local businesses to donate $200 towards the library, and in return each business would get a one minute commercial on the local cable station run by Paul’s cable. Response was overwhelming. Twenty-five businesses were able to have a commercial produced, with time constraints being the reason why there weren’t more.
To date, 15,000 books have been donated, coming from all across Canada, and even as far away as Australia. Sacred Heart, Skawenni:io’s high school, also had a book drive and they were able to donate 90 boxes of books. “The main thing we have to concentrate on now is fundraising for money, we have enough books to start out,” according to Skawennirio.
Rent and utilities will be covered for the time spent at the temporary library (two years, at least) by the Caisse Populaires Kahnawake, and the Mohawk council of Kahnawake, respectively.
“Our goal is to open the temporary library as soon as possible,” says Skawenni:io. As far as the search for a permanent site goes, “I think it’s been put on hold for now, but I’m not really sure.”
“One beautiful word,”-Skawennkio. Sometimes that’s all you need.