150 Profiles: Feather Maracle

As a way to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist profiled Canadians from across the non-profit sector and put a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. As 2017 drew to a close, we published our final profile of 2017 — reaching our target of speaking with 150 people! The Philanthropist recognizes that Canada’s history did not begin 150 years ago. And it will continue beyond 150 years. In this spirit, we will continue to profile people in the non-profit sector throughout 2018.

Name: Feather Maracle

Current role in the sector: CEO and Director of Library Services of the Six Nations Public Library

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Close to 20 years

What was your first job in the sector or your defining moment? 

My defining moment: A previous (and now retired) CEO encouraged me to speak at a library conference on the work that I was doing at the Timmins Public Library with the Indigenous population. I spoke in two sessions: one on promoting Indigenous voices via First Nation Communities Read program and collection. And the other, on ways municipal (public) libraries can partner with the local Indigenous community. It made me realize the importance of my work, and that I was doing something truly unique.

Describe your desk/workspace. 

My office has high ceilings, a window and a large L-shaped desk. On one portion of my desk sits a computer, and the other area is a large space to spread out. It’s a toss-up between favourite desk items: the cat-post-it and cat-tape dispensers or the beaded tissue box.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?

My reading is tailored to my specific interests of libraries and Indigenous matters, and where these overlap. Recently, I just finished reading the long list of nominated titles for the First Nations Communities Read program. Otherwise, Ontario Library Association, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries and Canadian Federation of Library Associations websites and Twitter feeds always have interesting items. My Facebook account is heavy library and heavy Indigenous content, so there’s always something interesting there! But, also my family – I have a very large family and they are all involved in various facets of Indigenous matters, so I truly enjoy talking with them too!

What do you think the sector needs to be thinking about?

I think this sector needs to be thinking about the future. And the significant and important role they play in a community . . . especially libraries! I was just reading how culture has a greater economic impact on Canada’s GDP than sport (almost $60 vs less than $10 billion dollars). Also, that three-quarters of Ontario’s population access information and programs through their local library. Libraries contribute in a major way to Canada’s community and culture – there isn’t an area of life that a library doesn’t touch. I encourage everyone to visit their local public library – “A Visit Will Get You Thinking.”

Feather Maracle is Haudenosaunee and Three Fires, and a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte at Tyendinaga. She is the CEO of the Six Nations Public Library, Canada’s largest First Nation Public Library. She is also an active member of several committees, including Chair of the Ontario Library Association – Indigenous Task Group; Juror on First Nation Communities Read; Canadian Federation of Library Associations – Indigenous Matters Committee, and most recently, the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries.