Human Library

The Human Library movement began in Denmark in 2000 and since then events have been held in over 25 countries. It is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Real people are on loan to readers for discussion. Difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.

Stay tuned for borrowing details.

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A Worldwide Movement For Social Change

in partnership with the Winnipeg Public Library

The Human Library™ movement began in Denmark in 2000 and since then events have been held in over 25 countries. It is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Real people are on loan to readers for discussion. Difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.

The event will take place at the Millennium Library – 251 Donald Street. Updated information on the catalogue and schedule can be found at 

Reservations can be made September 18-20 by calling Millennium Library, Reader Services at 204-986-6779. Limit of 2 per customer. After September 20, appointments can be made in-person at the event on a first-come, first-served basis. The appointment desk opens 30 minutes prior to event start time.

The Human Library Catalogue

Rizvi, Muhammad Ahsan – The Boy Named Muhammad
He was named Muhammad to commemorate the historical significance of the name; born in a conservative society to a very liberal couple. He begged his mom, every day, to let him skip school to avoid bullying, was ridiculed by coworkers for his gestures and postures, had a narrow escape from attempts on his life and yet grew up into an international trainer and human rights activist. This street-smart former university lecturer from Pakistan is breaking all barriers by constantly challenging himself. He is a newcomer to Canada and working as an Education Program Coordinator with specific focus on inclusion, acceptance, and celebrating diversity.

Nigel Bart – Whale Calling and the Purpose of Rabbits
Nigel tells his story from late adolescence to present about living with schizophrenia, dealing with the additional issues that come with mental illness, and recovering as the successful founder of Artbeat Studio.

Shamin Brown – Becoming
Biracial. Exploited. We are all born to be something more than what others have told us. Life is about stepping out of the box and challenging yourself.

Regina Chyzyn – Awareness: from broken to ill.
Living with PTSD and Fibromyalgia Every day is a challenge: to get out of bed, to carry on. I’ve spent my life continually trying to fit in and have been laughed at, or set up as a joke. I’ve been bullied, driven out of a job when I tried to explain my illness to unbelievers. Find out about my journey to hope – through art. This is the stuff my novel is made of. And I know the ending will be happy!

Jared Funk – Don’t Let Yourself Stop You
Jared is a three-time Paralympic medalist in wheelchair rugby as well as a father, husband, entrepreneur, and scuba diver.

Razak Iyal – Struggle of the Refugees
Refugees are stranded around the world, struggling to maintain hope. Razak arrived in Canada as a refugee, lost his fingers to frostbite, and has overcome one of the biggest challenges of his life. This is a story about human rights.

Lucy Jeneba KaiKai – Educated Black Single Mother
Lucy is a talented teacher and caring mother of two wonderful children. Yet, sometimes presumptions are made of her. Don’t judge a book by its cover… Lucy is a Black immigrant single mom, well educated, and speaks “good English” – several surprises are in store for you.

Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie – Resilience Through Art and Literature
Resilience. Decolonization. Matriarchy. How do we bring matriarchal principles back to the Indigenous world?

David Neufeld and Maggie Andres (a two volume set) – Abundance – Exploring Sustainability on Turtle Mountain
David and Maggie have lived on both solar and wind power and are currently building a rammed earth home that will run on solar power. They built a straw bale guesthouse, greenhouse and workshop, shop locally and grow much of their own food, and have raised their children to be caretakers of the earth. They’ve also mentored many city-raised folks in the skills of rural life. They live with minimal debt, have traveled extensively and worked as volunteers for 8 years in Southern Africa. They believe in the power of communities and our collective spirit.

Sue Ostapowich  – Moving On After Divorce
After a 32-year marriage came to an end, I felt lost and empty in a small town, not knowing where to start. But I am a true romance novel of heroic proportion! Hear my story about how spirit moved into my life, helping me to rebuild, to find trust, and gain the capacity to love again. ‘Transformative’ is the only way I can describe the experience which offered me healing for my wounded soul and led me to the ‘land of all possibilities’, filled with magic and excitement.

Alexa Potashnik – Stay Woke: The Lessons I’m Still Learning
Alexa’s community work is interactive. She is the founder of Black Space Winnipeg, a non-profit organization that advocates for Winnipeg’s Black community. She is the host of an award-winning radio show, Raw Colours, on 95.9 FM and is heavily involved in local, grassroots activism. All she does is inspired by the passion to affect positive change.

Prairie Sky – Painting a Prairie Sky: Creating Change Through Drag
Painting a Prairie Sky tells the story of acceptance, fear, and love told through the lived experiences of one of Winnipeg’s busiest drag queens. Drag is the playful avenue that many of Prairie’s most dramatic moments have travelled. Join her as she deconstructs what it means to be a two-spirit half-breed in Manitoba’s capital city and beyond.

Lara Rae – Becoming Lara: a life in progress
Lara is a proud transgender woman who has a career as a writer and comedian. She is an artistic director who uses creativity and life experiences to promote understanding not just for herself, but for other marginalized people.

Marcus Peter Rempel – Life at the End of Us vs. Them
I am a writer, a farmer and a pastor who lives at Ploughshares Community farm with my awesome wife and my two teenage daughters, along with some other folks with whom we share chores and food and stuff. Our life together has something to do with Christianity. My circle of friends beyond Ploughshares is pretty rainbow-coloured, and I like that. I am interested in honest conversations about what is dangerous about Christianity, and what is beautiful, and how closely these terrible/lovely strands intertwine. I wrote a book about this over the course of the past few winters called Life at the End of Us versus Them.

Garry Sawatzky – Black Belt Vegan
Garry left the gang life and the justice system to play football in the CFL. Now he is a jujitsu master, vegan and entrepreneur.

Adam Schwartz – The Most Unlikely Stand-up Comedian
Adam is a standup comedian on the autism spectrum and has worked in comedy for seven years. He is all about trying to make friends and win over the ladies.

Moneca Sinclair – Education: A Challenging Force
When people first meet me they do not know that I have a lot of both formal and informal education. I have learned from observing and listening to people who are kind and generous with others. I believe that everything we experience in life is either a lesson or an experience to teach gratitude.

Bernadette Smith – Alone in the Dark: When Someone Goes Missing
Bernadette is the co-founder of the Coalition of Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba as well as the Drag the Red Initiative. Her work focuses on building resiliency through traumatic experiences and helping the families of these women tell their stories.

Rachel Smith – Finding the Gift: How to Face Life’s Challenges
Most people do not expect to be a caregiver when they are in their mid-twenties. Rachel’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease then later, Lewy Body Dementia. Rachel’s hope is that by sharing her story she can help others with their own challenges.

Chris Summerville – When Childhood Experiences Interfere with Growing Up
There is growing interest in how adverse childhood experiences are diagnosed as mental illness, but these traumatic experiences lead to problems in psychological development and self-esteem. Results may be self-medication by use of drugs to deal with bullying, loss of parents, assaults, and other problems that affect feelings of being safe and how you relate to other people. How do you gain resilience to get past trauma?

Susan Swan – Fight for Survival – Learning to Accept Who You Are
Susan is a ‘60s Scooper who was raised in a non-indigenous lifestyle and constantly struggled with identity issues. She is also a single parent and a former police officer. Her story is inspiring, intended on giving hope & strength for tomorrow.

Judith Thompson – Nothing About Us Without Us: Using My Art to Amplify Voices
Judith’s latest focus is on using her skills as a theatre-maker, director, and playwright to work with those whose stories have not often been seen on stage and create a piece of theatre. How do you sift through what is beautiful and find a way to make it penetrating and insightful? Do most of us understand just how inaccessible the world is?

Valerie Wolbert – Free My People: Life as a Disability Advocate
From growing up in a foster family in rural Manitoba, to living in a group home, to my current life as a disability advocate – my life has always been extraordinary! I have toured Israel, marched in Ottawa, attended a conference in Washington, directed a documentary, and fought for – and won – the right to make my own decisions and choices. I am committed to making life better for all people who have been labelled with an intellectual disability. 

Note: Catalogue and Schedule subject to change.

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Additional information


Thursday, September 21, 2017 • 4 PM – 8 PM, Friday, September 22, 2017 • 1 PM – 4 PM, Saturday, September 23, 2017 • 1 PM – 4 PM


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