Exposing Aboriginal culture

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Aboriginal Awareness Week kicked off its second year at the Wilfrid Laurier University Waterloo campus this past Monday. Events will be running until Friday across campus and at the Aboriginal Student Centre located at 187 Albert Street.

Aboriginal Awareness Week was implemented to generate awareness of the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, and all of the support services they offer for the Aboriginal community at Laurier.

Melissa Ireland is the Aboriginal student support coordinator at WLU and helps students on a daily basis with academic and personal counseling, help with finding bursaries and offering a “holistic and welcoming environment” for any student that desires it as well as many other things. She believes the barely year-old centre — it opened in January 2011 — offers students a “sense of community” which is what many students need when away from home.

“Aboriginal Awareness Week is meant to showcase and highlight aboriginal culture and people, and the current events happening within the campus community,” said Ireland. “[It’s] about sharing what we do with other people.”

According to Ireland as well as Kandice Baptiste, Laurier’s Aboriginal recruitment and retention officer, they planned the series of events for the week, with a goal of getting a broad representation of what they could get to come and share. Baptiste was a student at Laurier, and in 2010 founded the Aboriginal Students’ Association.

This year, Baptiste feels as though the week is a chance to “let people know Aboriginal people go here, and that their culture is strong.” She added, ‘It’s kind of nice when people react to the events we have; it gets their brains working a bit.”

This past Monday, Aboriginal awareness speaker Marcel Labelle was in the Quad and did canoe teachings, where he spoke and even showed the audience his talents in splitting wood. When referencing the larger canoe he stated, “A big canoe builds community.”

Lebelle is “a very prominent Metis figure and even from the local community, but also known nationally,” said Ireland. On Tuesday, the Aboriginal Student Centre opened its doors for a Soup and Fry Bread lunch, something that is run on a weekly basis.

This week, there will be a talking circle taking place at the centre, another weekly occurrence. As well, there is a comedy hypnosis show with Darren Thomas entitled “The Power of the Mind.” Thomas actually is a staff member at the Laurier Brantford campus, and did a show last year.

Other upcoming events including a Drumology session, a talk with Sheri Longboat (a Laurier grad) and a self care workshop.

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