Indigenous Education Week celebrates heritage

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Photo by Luke Sarazin

From March 5 to 12, Indigenous Education Week was held at Wilfrid Laurier University on both the Brantford and Waterloo campuses.

The week-long celebration of Indigenous culture allowed for students to attend events relating to Indigenous heritage.

The various educational events included different variations of delivery but all focused on ensuring Indigenous heritage was showcased to students. The events included a podcast party, a film screening, a lecture, a booth in the concourse, a drum making workshop and arts and crafts.

“All of our lectures, talks, workshops, food and everything that we do this week are coordinated by or have had voices of Indigenous people, which sometimes don’t always have the foreground,” Melissa Ireland, coordinator of Indigenous Student Support, said.

“It’s a way to make sure that the campus community knows who we are where we are and that we have services for students.”

These educational events provide students with some knowledge of Indigenous culture by presenting information about Indigenous struggles, accomplishments, culture, tragedy and artistic development.

Ireland explained that this week is meant to bring the campus together for educational activities.

“I think it’s a chance for both the Waterloo and Brantford campus communities to come out to events that have Indigenous content … we run things often in our centres in both campus’s but our centres are only so big,” Ireland said.

“We definitely want to celebrate our culture [and our] visibility on campus and we have a campus that allows us and celebrates with us.”

“We try to create events where we move onto campus and leave our centres and invite the public to learn a little bit more about Indigenous culture and people. So we’ve created the week to be free and open to the public.”

A major focus of this week is to provide a way for students in the community to connect with the centre and see all the opportunities that the centre has to offer.

“For us, it’s a way to have partners within other departments that want to partner with us, maybe connect with students who have not realized that there are Indigenous student services on campus,” Ireland said.

“It’s a way to network and be open to activities and events that can be inclusive to everyone.”

Some other events which were highlighted this week were the podcast party and the film screening of The Birth of a Family as well as a booth in the concourse with red dresses hanging around to symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The last event of Indigenous Education Week saw participants create baby moccasins to raise awareness for the Indigenous children in foster care. This event was led by Eric Lickers, masters of social work candidate.

“We all made moccasins today so they can go on a campaign to raise awareness for Indigenous children who are in foster care … the object is to create 165,000 pairs of baby Moccasins to represent each [Indigenous] child who is in foster care,” Lickers said.

“The aim is to raise awareness about the stats and try and make things better and going forward it starts with raising awareness just so people know what that situation is like.”

“Once people realize how bad the situation is for Indigenous kids that’s when it becomes unacceptable and things will start to change which is kind of what we are thinking.”

The week was meant to celebrate the importance of Indigenous education awareness of issues surrounding the Indigenous community

“We definitely want to celebrate our culture [and our] visibility on campus and we have a campus that allows us and celebrates with us,” Ireland said.

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