June 15, 2016

Canadian publishers endorse federal initiatives supporting Indigenous arts

At its 2016 Annual General Meeting, held June 8-10 in Winnipeg, the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) voted unanimously to endorse initiatives announced recently by the Canada Council for the Arts and Department of Canadian Heritage, which make support for Indigenous arts and Indigenous peoples a funding priority. ACP believes that these initiatives should support Indigenous authors and publishers, enhance Indigenous editorial agency, and continue to aid in the publication and promotion of books that contribute to the understanding of Indigenous perspectives and to the spirit and process of reconciliation.

“As publishers we are committed to the educational and cultural purposes that are articulated in certain of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ninety-four calls to action,” said ACP president, Matt Williams. “We believe that our role is to bring to a wider audience and to future generations the stories and experience of others, including, specifically, Indigenous writing and publishing. We acknowledge the initiative shown by the Canada Council and Canadian Heritage in making this a priority, and in contributing to this ongoing national process.”

The ACP AGM included a keynote from Dr. Marie Wilson, one of the TRC’s three commissioners. Dr. Wilson reflected on her experience as a commissioner, and identified ways that publishers can contribute to reconciliation through their work. “It was an honour to hear Dr. Wilson speak,” said Williams. “Those present heard clearly her call that we reflect on and respond to the calls to action put forward by the TRC. Much of that work will be done at the firm level, but there is also a role for ACP to play in supporting collective initiatives that contribute to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

The themes of Dr. Wilson’s address echoed through many of the ACP’s committee meetings, and several initiatives focused on schools and public libraries were proposed to ensure that books by Indigenous authors and that reflect Indigenous perspectives are available to those building collections and selecting classroom resources.