Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.
Name: Nancy Cooper
Position: First Nations Consultant
I am a member of Rama First Nation in southern Ontario and I share Anishnabe/Potawatomi and Irish settler heritage. I have been one of the First Nations Consultants here at the OLS for just over six years. I work with First Nation Public Libraries throughout the province, along with my colleague Deanna Nebenionquit. I’ve also administered the First Nation Communities READ program for the past six years.
I’ve lived in Toronto for the past 30 years but will always call the north my home. In my spare time I attempt to wrangle my 14-year old twin boys.
I have a children’s book being released in March of 2023 called Biindigen! Amik Says Welcome, published by Owlkids Books.
If you could become a character from any book who would you pick and why?
I’ve always loved books about WWII resistance fighters/spies/couriers. I’d be a plucky young woman in one of those books helping to overthrow the bad guys, one coded message at a time.
My favourite meal is…
One I don’t have to cook. If I don’t have to cook it, it is my current favourite meal.
A random and seldom known fact about me is…
I once was on an episode of Candid Camera when I visited England in my early 20s!
What do diversity, inclusion, and connection mean to you?
Before I was 10 I had lived in five towns throughout northern Ontario. My father was an OPP officer, and we were transferred quite a few times. No matter where we lived, my mom, who was Anishinaabe, made social connections and worked to help in the local Indigenous community in any way she could. I learned from her about what community support really meant, to always share what I have, and to provide a safe haven for those in need whenever I can. For our family, there was always room for one more at the table, there was always room in the circle we made.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my adult life to work in and for the Indigenous community at local, provincial, national and international levels as an adult educator and community development facilitator. There is such a profound shift when people who have been silenced in the past, are encouraged and celebrated as they use their voices to speak truth to power and for change at a personal, community, and societal level. Right there, in that place of voice, is where connection, inclusivity and diversity meet and its amazing.