‘Human books’ breathe new life into SAIT library

Ten participants connected to the SAIT community lent themselves and their stories to the “human book” event on Feb. 2 at Reg Erhardt Library.

Those wanting to hear the stories and ask questions can schedule blocks of 45 minutes for up to three “books.”

Student engagement librarian Sabrina Wong organized the event with funding from SAIT for its upcoming centennial celebrations.

“Lots of libraries have done this before – both academic libraries as well as public libraries,” she said. “It’s been a pretty popular community-building thing.”

The human books at the event were largely volunteers, either directly or indirectly involved in the SAIT community.

“I put the word out to a bunch of staff and some students, including SAITSA, and they found all the books for me,” Wong said.

“It’s been a really positive reaction. I’ve had people who weren’t able to attend e-mail me and ask if we can do it again.”

For Audrey Weasel Traveler, one of the human books at the event, the verbal passing of stories is an integral part of her Piikani First Nation heritage.

Weasel Traveler continued her tradition at the event, passing on her knowledge of generations of First Nations peoples and the struggles they have faced.

“First Nations became paupers on their own land,” Weasel Traveler said in her story.

“I flourished. I did what I needed to do. I ended up getting a master’s degree in education.”

Weasel Traveler is involved with the Chinook Lodge, the aboriginal resource centre on campus, and was asked to participate in the event.

Cora Sutton, who wears number four on both the women’s Trojans hockey and soccer teams, used the evening to share her story of moving away from home and balancing team, academic and personal life.

“Being on an athletic team, you battle with a lot of sacrifice,” she said. “Even through high school, I didn’t get to go out on weekends with my friends or go to parties. I was always travelling for hockey.

“You have practice at five in the morning and between studying and practice you aren’t leaving until nine at night.”

Her head coach approached Sutton with the idea of participating in the event, which she approached with a positive attitude.

“I thought it would be a cool idea. I’ve never heard anything like it before,” Sutton said.

Tara Winberg-Crooks, a SAIT automotive instructor, shared her story from the perspective of a woman in the auto industry.

I flourished. I did what I needed to do. – Audrey Weasel Traveler

Her passion for cars began in an “easy-A” automotive class in an all-female high school and she later travelled for several years in countries including Ireland and Australia, she said.

“I want to spread the word of a positive experience for the female in trades, ”Winberg-Crooks said. “People always talk about a male-dominated trade, and to me it never made a difference.”

Weasel Traveler said there are many different kinds of stories and storytellers.

“You can tell a history and that’s a story, or you could tell a story that gives a lesson,” she said.

“Inside those stories, there’s lessons, and you have to ponder those lessons.”

About Alex Jackson 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Alex Jackson worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2015-16 academic year.