Planning for a new Halifax Central Library began many years before the building opened in 2014. In January 2010, an consultation process with the Mi'kmaw community took place. The shared goals for these consultations were to incorporate design input from the community, define opportunities to highlight and increase access to Mi'kmaw culture within the new building, and identify service needs and ways to partner through ongoing HRM-wide initiatives.
Based on consultations throughout 2010-2011, a First Nations Circle was designed and integrated into the Central Library plans. Halifax Public Libraries staff and building architects shared draft designs with representatives from the Mi'kmaw community, and recommendations for changes to the space were incorporated in the final design and creation of the area.
The First Nations Circle can be found on the third floor of Halifax Central Library.
The First Nations Circle incorporates the following key components from consultations—which were also considered in the overall building design.
The question, “What defines Mi'kmaw culture?,” was discussed, and the feedback was incorporated into the First Nations Circle design.
- References to nature were primary: earth, water, air, and trees. Earth colours are representative of Mi'kmaw culture: red, white, black, and yellow. When combined together, these colours become earth colours.
- The eight-pointed star is a very important spiritual symbol and part of Mi’kmaw culture.
- The opening for the First Nations Circle points toward the east. In Mi'kmaw culture, it is important that openings to circles are pointed in this direction.
- Alongside the First Nations Circle, there is a display space for Indigenous artifacts, artwork, and literature.
A strong point was made that the building as a whole should represent a way to "look after the earth," as a message for all people—that we must think about our past and future generations. The building should incorporate materials, light, and scale that are "in harmony with the earth," with a balance of spirituality and materialism.
Halifax Central Library has since received LEED Gold certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Learn more about the building's sustainable features here, opens a new window.
3. Community centred
The First Nations Circle, and building as a whole, work to serve a wide range of community needs and celebrate the many diverse cultures that make up our population through events, collections, art installations, and more. Feedback from the Mi'kmaw community also led to the First Nations Circle being a space for creative expression—through events and performances held in the space, and the artwork and stories surrounding it.