Published Feb 20, 2020Former Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson has returned with a new solo song in support of Winnipeg's Millennium Library.
Titled "Millennium for All," the track is in protest of the public space's increased security and decreased funding.
Last year, the Millennium Library installed "airport-style security," issuing physical searches to everyone entering the building. Local critics say the extreme measures hurt and deter marginalized and vulnerable people, and that they were initiated without consulting community groups, experts, elected officials or library users.
Millennium for All is an organization that has been fighting back against the security changes and how unwelcome it has made people feel.
Samson pays homage to them in his new song that shares its name with the organization.
He knows the library well, as he and his partner Christine Fellows were co-writers-in-residence at the Winnipeg Public Library in 2016-17.
"I wanted to write a song about the Millennium Library, which I visited and worked at weekly for most of my life until the security was installed a year ago," Samson explains. "I wanted to demonstrate how the Millennium is so much more than a building full of books. It's the heart of my community and I miss it."
Listen to his plea for turning the library back over to the people below via an accompanying video for "Millennium for All."
Samson is accompanied on "Millennium for All" by Winnipeg musicians Ashley Au, Christine Fellows, Scott Nolan and Jason Tait. Fellows also made the stop-motion video that accompanies the song, while local artist Jonathan Dyck drew the birds.
See Millennium for All's upcoming events here, including a rally at the library to mark the one year anniversary of the security instalments on February 25.
"I want to help promote the upcoming week of events being organized by Millennium for All and Budget for All Winnipeg," Samson says. "We need to make it clear to the city and library management that we don't accept exclusionary security in our library, and also remind politicians that libraries require committed investment. All Winnipeg's libraries are underfunded and understaffed, yet the mayor and councillors are threatening to cut funding even further to these and other essential services in their proposed city budget next month. We can't let that happen."
Samson goes on to explain that he believes libraries are at the centre of the struggle for social justice.
"I've been really inspired by people acting on behalf of libraries, from community resistance to transphobia at the Toronto Public Library to Winnipeggers' protests against the racist and exclusionary security at the Millennium. We need our libraries to be truly welcoming and fully funded."