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West Van library honoured with award for environmental efforts

The library’s Climate Future initiative aims to raise climate awareness within the community

The West Vancouver Memorial Library has been recognized for its ongoing efforts to raise climate awareness, and to reconnect locals with the land, with the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) Eureka Award.

On Friday, April 17, the library received the provincial award, given to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated innovation, insightfulness, or originality in the library field, in honour of its eco-conscious Climate Future initiative.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this library that holds sustainability as a core value,” said librarian Kendra Sakamoto, who accepted the award at the BCLA conference on Friday.

Sakamoto said it had been an “incredible honour” to lead some of the Climate Future projects, which include the Climate Writer in Residence program with Northern Dene author and activist, Katłįà Lafferty, and the library’s community demonstration garden, Swáy̓wi temíxw.

“It truly is a privilege to be able to do this work, where meaningful climate action and reconciliation intersect,” she said.

While the library has always been hell bent on climate action, with a staff-led Green Team starting in 2006 and a Green Building Operations Policy in 2009, it was when the District of West Vancouver declared a state of climate emergency in 2019 that the memorial library ramped up efforts to educate and raise awareness.

In response it launched Climate Future, an ongoing initiative that includes events, a reading challenge, and a toolkit filled with actions and tips on how readers can reduce their carbon footprint.

Shortly after in 2022, the library kickstarted its Climate Writer in Residence program featuring Katłįà Lafferty, author and member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Lafferty was able to speak on the climate emergency through an Indigenous perspective, and helped run programs, events and workshops for the local community.

Another project to come under the Climate Future umbrella involved the library transforming its rooftop parking space into a community demonstration garden. Designed to be a place of both relaxation and education for locals, the garden is often home to book readings, garden programs, nature talks and children’s concerts.

In October 2022, the community demonstration garden was honoured with a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) name, Swáy̓wi temíxw, by Chepximiya Siyam’ Chief Janice George.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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