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: Deanna Nebenionquit
Position: First Nation Consultant
My name is Deanna Nebenionquit, and I am an Ojibwe-kwe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. Growing up, I was a frequent user of the Atikameksheng Kendassi Gamik. The library sits halfway between my parent’s and grandparent’s house. From a young age, I was encouraged to practice reading and writing. My bedroom was an organized mess of notebooks, novels, and magazines. I was also raised to engage with the community by visiting people and attending events. The First Nation was our playground back then! I felt safe exploring on my bike and walking the perpetual loop around the main village with cousins and friends.
My family values and upbringing led me to a career in Museology. I graduated from the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and the Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices) at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Before joining Ontario Library Service, I worked for many years at the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury as the Collections Intern, turned Collections Manager and Curator Alternate.
The synergies between museums, libraries, cultural knowledge, and history have allowed me to work towards the grand goal of supporting on-reserve public librarians and the services they provide to patrons.
My favourite desert island book is…
There There by Tommy Orange, published in 2018. I look forward to rereading my yard sale copy of There There at camp each summer. Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, raised in Oakland, California. Orange’s fictitious storylines and characters weave together multi-generational experiences through several succinct journeys. The storylines describe Indigenous realities that I’ve tried to process as a First Nation Millennial. Orange’s writing style made me realize that I had never experienced the fiction writings of an Indigenous person from my age group. The City of Oakland is a focal point that the author features as a living entity that can store memories and culture. Tommy Orange’s ability to describe Oakland as home for his characters was the first time I felt the connection to my own community described through written word. Year 2023 will mark my sixth reading of the book, so I think I could survive on an island with this text!
A random and seldom known fact about me is…
A random and seldom known fact about me is that I have no artistry skills. Because I worked in the arts sector for so many years, people assume that I am a master at painting, drawing, sewing. Truth be told, I did not inherit any of those skills. My mom and sister still hem my curtains! I’ve been working on the same beading project for years – a 3-inch flower that I had to turn into an image of an over easy egg in a frying pan because I botched the original project. I appreciate artists and respect their skills, but I am not one of them. However, I do appreciate the compliments that follow once people realize the truth: “You seem like the creative-type!” or “You look like an artist.”
Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…
I love many aspects of my job as a First Nation Consultant. However, my favourite is engaging with the on-reserve public librarians through the weekly informal virtual Tea & Chat. The drop-in model has consistently been a welcoming space for clients, First Nation Consultants, and the occasional special guest. The group consultation model provides opportunities for OLS to curate training initiatives. The librarians remind me of family and community members that I grew up with. The librarians are all welcoming, sincere, honest, and supportive.