A message from the TPL Board on our commitment to Truth & Reconciliation and advancing equity and inclusion

June 23, 2021 | Media Relations

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The following statement was read by TPL’s City Librarian, Vickery Bowles, on behalf of the TPL Board at the Toronto Public Board meeting on June 22, 2021:

This has been an incredibly difficult time, as we continue to grapple with the many devastating reports of violence, hate and injustice, including those recently coming out of Kamloops, British Columbia with the horrific discovery of 215 Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

This heartbreaking news has been shocking but not surprising. It has brought to light what we’ve known to be true for some time about our country’s shameful legacy of mistreatment of Indigenous communities. It has made it visceral and real in a way that we cannot, and must not ignore.

On behalf of the Toronto Public Library Board, I want to reaffirm TPL’s commitment to advancing the work we started in 2017 as part of our Board-approved Indigenous Strategies response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.

We also reiterate our commitment to advancing equity and inclusion as part of our strategic plan, applying an equity lens to everything we do so that everyone feels welcome and represented when using our spaces and services. We will help to combat ignorance and intolerance by providing resources and information to help people educate themselves so that they can make better-informed contributions and decisions, and by celebrating and showcasing the incredible diversity in our city.

In this work we will remain transparent and accountable, with staff reporting back on our progress throughout the life of our plan.

This work has never been more important. Over the past weeks and months we have seen a rise in hate and intolerance across our communities, and a proliferation of despicable acts of violence against so many marginalized groups.

As we approach Canada Day this year, there is much to celebrate and admire about our country, including its promise of acceptance and inclusion. But the events of the past few weeks also remind us that these are still aspirations, and that we have a long way to go towards understanding our history and building a truly equitable and just society.

Thank you.

-The Toronto Public Library Board