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Kym Gouchie, Wendy Proverbs receive Jeanne Clarke history award

Kym Gouchie

The Prince George Public Library (PGPL) board announced two recipients of the 37th annual Jeanne Clarke Awards Sunday. The Jeanne Clarke Local History Award was established by the library board in 1985, in memory of former library board chair Jeanne Clarke, to recognize individuals or groups for outstanding contributions in the preservation and promotion of local and regional history.

Kym Gouchie was honoured with the 2022 Jeanne Clarke Service Award. Gouchie is a multidisciplinary Indigenous musician, visual artist, and playwright. She uses her gifts to tell the stories, struggles, and strengths of her ancestors, bringing awareness to northern B.C. and the world through her songs and spoken words. Her passions are far reaching and include being a cultural liaison for a multitude of organizations.

She is an incredible storyteller who weaves language learnings into her music. This is demonstrated by the interactive videos she made in partnership with School District 57 that help to preserve Lheidli T’enneh history, culture, Dakelh language, and music in a genuine and playful way that gets kids dancing and singing along.

Gouchie said winning the award that her grandmother, Mary Gouchie, won in 2020 alongside The Exploration Place, means a lot to her.

“I feel that I am truly living in her footsteps and honouring her legacy,” Gouchie said. “I am standing here because I am a cycle breaker and I want something different for my life, for my children, for my grandchildren, for my great-grandchildren. And so, I believe that’s what inspires me to do the work that I am doing and to share these messages through music.”

The 2022 Publication Award was bestowed to Wendy Proverbs for her novel Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children, published in 2021. Proverbs’ novel focuses not on the sisters’ experience in residential school, but on the harrowing 1,600-kilometre expedition that took the sisters from their home in Daylu (Lower Post) to Lejac Residential School on the shores of Fraser Lake. The girls, aged eight and six, travel by riverboat, truck, paddle wheeler, steamship and train.

Aggie and Mudgy offers a glimpse into the act of being physically uprooted and transported far away from loved ones. It captures the breakdown of family by the forces of colonialism, but also celebrates the survival and perseverance of the descendants of residential school survivors in re-establishing the bonds of family.

“Writing Aggie and Mudgy has been a very personal journey for me,” said Proverbs. “I have grown closer to my ancestral routes and I am pleased to have met new family members as my Kaska Dena family has grown since the publication.”

“It’s so important for our community to hear these stories about where we come from and how we got here,” said Mike Gagel, the PGPL board chair. “As we learn about and reflect on the long-lasting impacts of colonialism on the peoples of this region, it’s important to listen, learn, and work to create environments where people can make authentic connections and share their experiences in a safe space. At the Prince George Public Library, we are committed to working towards fostering a vibrant, inclusive, thriving community. As expressed in our new mission statement, the library is focused on creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for every person to read, connect, and share. We prioritize partnerships and connections with community stakeholders to promote diversity and help to create safe, attractive, inclusive library spaces that all members of our community can take pride in, including marginalized or underserved groups. We strive to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices into library services, facilities, collections, and programming. We are grateful to all of the storytellers who help to preserve and promote our local history.”

For the second year in a row, PGPL was able to adapt and partner with CKPG to share this celebration of the history and people of the region with a broadcasted awards show. The Jeanne Clarke Awards aired on CKPG TV on March 13 at 6:00pm, will air again on March 14 at 7 p.m,. and can be streamed online at www.ckpgtoday.ca.

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