September 4, 2023
Manitoba Library Association has been following calls for censorship across a number of Manitoba public and school libraries for several months. South Central Regional Library, Louis Riel School Division, Prairie Rose School Division, and Brandon School Division seem to be especially targeted by groups espousing hatred of the LGBTQIA+ community.
On August 28, 2023, with respect to continuing book challenges in school libraries, Trustees of the Brandon School Division were served Action4Canada “Notices of Personal Liability”, as reported by the Brandon Sun: Trustees served ‘notices of liability’ – Brandon Sun. Kathy Smitzniuk, Brandon Resident, noted “With assistance of Action4Canada, we presented a stack of notices of liabilities signed by Brandon residents to the Brandon School Division officer for distribution to six of the trustees”.
Manitoba Library Association has since observed Action4Canada’s broader “call to action” on their social media pages calling on men to serve such notices to teachers and principals during return to fall classes. Hyperlinks are available and a screenshot of the Twitter page is also attached. https://action4canada.com/back-to-school-call-to-action-1/ https://x.com/action4canada/status/1697788691777802434?s=46&t=d_IipjSsH9XWm5lvzAGVsg
Canadian Federation of Library Associations (of which Manitoba Library Association is a member) has recognized that such notices appear to be an intimidation tactic. CFLA Issues Guidance on Responding to “Notices of Personal Liability” – news (librarianship.ca)
In the context of such notices being so recently being delivered to School Board Trustees in Brandon, Manitoba Library Association is concerned that this “call to action” incites a broader campaign of overt bigotry towards the LGBTQIA+ community and targeted harassment towards those working in school environments in the Brandon School Division, elsewhere in Manitoba, and indeed throughout Canada.
Recognizing the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as a leader in monitoring hate groups in Canada, and a resource our organization has looked to for reliable information, we wanted to share these concerns with you.
Melanie Sucha, MLIS (she/her)
Past-President, Manitoba Library Association