Community Health

Funding level: Up to $50,000


Yellowknife Public Library is the largest public library in the Northwest Territories, serving the near 20,000 residents as well as visitors. It is an active community hub, and it is our mission help share ideas in order to unite and strengthen our very diverse community.

Indeed, with more than a third of the local population being card carrying members, programming numbers increasing, and circulation numbers remaining steady, the library is already meeting the needs of many individuals and groups.

However, there is always room for improvement; to reach more people and address more needs. Health, in particular, is a major concern across the territory. Statistics confirm higher rates of obesity and more consumers of alcohol and nicotine. Mental illness is high. To address social outcomes in the territory, The Conference Board of Canada recently made the following recommendations:
"- Improve education outcomes, with a specific focus on culturally appropriate curriculum and programming for Indigenous individuals.
- Improve access to health care, including mental health services in the territories.
- Ensure ongoing investments in poverty reduction strategies." (

Yellowknife Public Library is in a unique position to tackle these. However, while it does address education and poverty already and quite obviously, there is more work to be done on the health front. It is believed that a holistic health approach would be best.

Holistic health considers the domains of mental, physical, and spiritual health and is consistent with Aboriginal perspectives on health ( which is especially important to our local population. Furthermore, as many schools across the territory have been discovering, stressors (including biological, emotional, cognitive, and social) can be impediments to learning. The library's collection, therefore, is not being accessed and processed as well as it could. It is believed that integrating holistic health programs and resources, combined with tools to help patrons self-regulate their energy levels would have an even more remarkable impact by improving local health and in turn, education and poverty levels.

The idea:
- Access to self-regulation and exercise equipment that patrons may not otherwise have. This would include alternative seating, light therapy lamps, a drinking fountain, yoga mats, and riding work stations. Culturally based ideas will also be included, such as a tipi and a boulder (a "bringing nature inside" idea).
- More books and audiovisual resources related to physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health; production of physical literacy kits that patrons can check out and being home. These would include seasonally relevant activity books and resources to play games and other activities.
- Increased programs to address the various domains of holistic health including, but not limited to: Dene games, traditional Dene medicine, multi-faith presentation, yoga for families, mental health talk, a breastfeeding event, and a local hiking talk.

None of these ideas nor required equipment are expensive individually and would be chosen for quality including ease of staff and patron use. Therefore, after the initial set up, would be sustainable for the long term use in the library.

Finally, a public library that incorporates such holistic health ideas is unique in Canada but likely to inspire other public libraries across the country to follow its lead.

Broker supported

Yellowknife Public Library

Location: Yellowknife