The Grande Prairie Public Library has officially launched the Community Medicine Wheel. Indigenous Elder Loretta Parenteau-English took part in blessing the space with a traditional ceremony involving tobacco and smudging.
Teen Services Librarian Bailey Randolph says the youth of the Communities Building Youth Futures Committee identified the need for better access to medicine wheel teachings, which is what sparked the idea.
“We’ve been working with the Friendship Centre since the fall of last year. During the shutdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were one of the only places that stayed open. We already had the medicine wheel symbol here so we thought we would use the area to create a space of healing and learning for everybody.”
The idea of the medicine wheel is finding balance in all aspects of one’s life. Spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional. Randolph feels that it helps further the vision of the library being a conduit in the community.
“That is our biggest goal. We really want to show people that we are more than just books and a safe space for everybody. We also hope that people can learn about Indigenous people and their culture, whose land we share here,” she says.
Elder Parenteau-English is encouraged at more steps people are taking in the community to honour the Calls to Action of Truth and Reconciliation.
“Additions like this show us that the community continues to move forward on that path. The teaching that can happen in this space is really important too. It shows me that the community itself is not just standing back and saying nothing, they continue to be proactive in working with the Indigenous community,” she says.
The Indigenous Medicine Wheel has always been a part of Indigenous culture. The Medicine Wheel can be found on Teepee rings and it connects the land and cosmos where Indigenous peoples came from.
“It also depicts your role as a human being. You know, being respectful, grateful, honest, and truthful in many ways. The wheel continues those teachings and is acceptable in our society today,” Parenteau-English adds.
Anyone can come to the space in the library and colour, pray, meditate, and learn more about Indigenous culture. The library will also offer activities as part of the Community Medicine Wheel.