EDMONTON -- Edmonton Public Library (EPL) on Thursday announced its newest Elder in Residence.

Elder Jo-Ann Saddleback from the Saddle Lake Cree First Nation will maintain a one-year residence at the Stanley A. Milner Library.

The program, established in 2017 with Elder Wilson Bearhead as its first Elder in Residence, is in acknowledgement of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

It aims to connect Edmonton’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities by offering access to Indigenous knowledge and opening up a space where visitors can share meaningful dialogue around reconciliation.

“It’s truth and reconciliation and we’re not finished with the truth yet,” Saddleback explained. “I’m hoping by the sharing of our stories, by the kind of conversations we can have in this space, that more of that truth will come out. That people feel safer but it’s done in a way of kinship and relationship.”

As an Elder in Residence, she will help open up those conversations by inviting other elders, knowledge keepers, and Indigenous artists into library space to share their stories.

Elder Saddleback will work from PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN (Thunderbird House), an Indigenous gathering space at the Stanley A. Milner Library she helped to design and later blessed with a pipe ceremony alongside her husband Elder Jerry Saddleback.

Pilar Martinez, EPL CEO said in a statement, that the library was honoured to have Saddleback as the library’s first Elder in Residence.

“As a highly regarded Elder, cultural educator and artist, who has provided tremendous guidance to EPL over the years, Elder Saddleback brings Indigenous wisdom, invaluable knowledge and lived experience that will guide and support EPL’s efforts to provide meaningful services and programming to our customers.”

Due to current health guidelines, Edmonton’s Saddleback will be holding one-on-one and group sessions virtually.


A prior version of this article stated Elder Jo-Ann Saddleback was EPL's First Elder in Residence. The program was established in 2017 and Elder Wilson Bearhead was the first Elder in Residence.