Thursday, October 19, 2017

Librarians Encourage Reconciliation Through KAIROS Blanket Exercises

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Photo: http://www.holytrinitytoronto.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/blankets-672x372.jpg
Even before the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, University of Alberta Libraries have been implementing ways to reconcile with Canada’s dark past and to move forward by creating positive, meaningful relationships with the Indigenous community. This is reinforced by the University’s 2016-2017 strategic plan “For the Public Good”, where we are all encouraged to “Foster learning opportunities across our campuses that enable student, staff, and faculty participation in reconciliation” (p. 10).

As a M├ętis person and educator, reconciliation is something that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, I have started working with RISE (Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton) to gain more understanding of my own family’s past in light of everything that has happened between Canada and Indigenous people. Through this journey, I am often faced with the question of: “how do you encourage reconciliation?” and “what is the most effective way to educate students about Indigenous history?” This is where I came across the KAIROS Blanket Exercise.

So, what is a Blanket Exercise?

I’ve been asked this questions many times. Whether it’s a family member at a holiday meal or a friendly conversation in the coffee line up, I always say the same thing. It’s a way to educate people on a topic that not everyone is fully aware of -- a way to present Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective.

This is a perspective that has been muted throughout history. In fact, remembering my elementary school days, I don’t recall learning much about Indigenous culture. To be honest, I think we spent more time talking about pirates than Indigenous Peoples. My own family history was muted as well. We were actively told to hide our true identity as a survival mechanism. This left me and my generation grossly unaware of the struggles that Indigenous Peoples have dealt with for more than 150 years.

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an excellent tool for building a more accurate image of how Canada came to be what it is now. Through an interactive script that engages all participants, it takes participants through time prior to any European settlers setting foot on Turtle Island. By immersing yourself into the activity, every participant feels the impacts that the Canadian government continues to have on Indigenous Peoples.

Now, what does this have to do with the library?

This is a tough, but wonderful question. Librarians are not all about books and databases. I see librarians as educators, activists, and helpers. Most important, libraries are a place of community. So, if a student and/or faculty member walks into the library I instinctively want to help.

This is what happened with EDU 211: Aboriginal Education and Contexts for Professional and Personal Engagement. A friendly conversation about library services evolved into a personal conversation about my involvement with RISE and my role in facilitating Blanket Exercises. It was the perfect combination of relationships and willingness to try new things in the classroom. Since that initial conversation, librarians gathered to help!

We gathered together in the Education Kiva room to share the exercise with 60 students and future educators. Since this initial Blanket Exercise, I have been asked to facilitate more within the Education community.

I am extremely grateful and humbled by the experience and being able to share my story with the students. By sharing these moments with the University community, I hope that this will help to inform future generations of instructors and students. 

Hiy hiy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sleep for Success Exhibit: On Now

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Did you know that over 30% of students at the UofA do not get an adequate amount of sleep? This deficit can result in poor grades, cognitive deficits, and poor physical and psychological health. Sleep, like good nutrition and exercise, is considered one of the foundations necessary for a happy, healthy life. For many post-secondary students, sleep is a major self-care challenge and a potential obstacle to success. Yuluan Wang and Vineet Prasad, graduate students with the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, are on a mission to make the UofA a sleep-healthy campus.

Earlier this year, Yuluan and Vineet were awarded a Heroes for Health grant for their proposal to raise awareness of the effects of sleep on health. As a part of this initiative they have created an eClass course called Dream Big, Sleep Tight, where members of the UofA community can learn about the perils of sleep deficiency and how to combat it.

To help promote this course and the overall importance of sleep, Yuluan and Vineet have put together an exciting new exhibit at the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library. Exploring everything from hidden sources of caffeine to gadgets that can help and harm sleep this exhibit has plenty of solutions to help you catch the Zzzs you need to help you succeed. The Sleep for Success Exhibit will be hosted at the Scott Library from October 16 until November 19, 2017.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

David Sulz Awarded Excellence in Learning Support

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“David has been a catalyst for my learning. I wish every grad student on campus could benefit from his presence or their own subject librarian during their learning journey...” - Yichuan Wang, Ph.D. student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, one of the Award nominators.

University of Alberta Librarian David Sulz is known for his enthusiasm for learning and inspiring that in others. He listens to students, creates a safe environment, and is an active learning partner.

David Sulz and Yichuan Wang


Recently, he was recognized for these qualities and awarded the UAlberta Excellence in Learning Support. This award is specifically designed to recognize members of the University community whose role does not involve teaching, but who nonetheless directly and significantly contribute to the student learning experience.

Those who nominated David for his excellence in learning support were graduate students, colleagues, and professors. Each mentioned David’s enthusiasm for learning and his role as a connector of students. He creates a very fun and safe space for struggle with idea formation and an atmosphere where the struggle is embraced as an exciting growth opportunity. His joyful personality, life wisdom, and listening skills make him an active catalyst for learning and great conversation partner.

He uses alternative techniques to engage students and researchers to think differently about their subject and get excited about their learning. Whether he’s suggesting mind maps or encouraging students to explain their research in a sentence or two to a group of high school students touring the library, David makes learning fun.

Congratulations David!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Celebrate Edmonton Music: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

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Friday, October 27, 11am-3pm @ MacEwan University Library, Multi-Purpose Room

Join librarians from MacEwan University and the University of Alberta for a Wikipedia edit-a-thon celebrating the music of Edmonton. Organized in coordination with the Canada 150: Music and Belonging Project, and in conjunction with Open Access Week, this edit-a-thon invites anyone interested in contributing to information on Edmonton music, editing Wikipedia, and open access to join us for this short, informal event.

Admission is free and no previous Wikipedia editing experience is required.

Location
John L. Haar Library (multipurpose room 7-269)
MacEwan University City Centre Campus
10700 104 Avenue Northwest
Edmonton, AB T5J 4S2

Schedule
11am-12pm: Part One: Wikipedia Basics

12pm-1pm: Lunch

1pm-3pm: Part Two: Hands-on editing of Edmonton music articles

Register on Eventbrite by Tuesday, October 18.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Archives Move to the New RCRF Begins

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The University of Alberta Archives has begun its move to our new high-density storage facility, the RCRF (Research and Collections Resource Facility).

The archives move involves the packing and moving of 31,477 boxes of materials or 1028 book carts. The move is expected to take 2 months. During the move, the archives collection is unavailable. For more information, please contact Archives (archives@ualberta.ca).