The Office of Indigenous Initiatives hosts eighth annual education week


Photo by Jackie Vang

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Laurier is hosting their eighth annual Indigenous Education Week from Mar. 4 to the 8, hosting various events around campus to get students involved and educated on the Indigenous work that happens on campus.

The week-long event first started in 2011, and is celebrated on both Waterloo and Brantford campuses. It starts during the first full week of March, getting started this year with an event: “Lucinda House Lunch & Learn: Discovering Our Past and Exploring Our Future.”

“Having a week like this is our chance to provide opportunities for our students to see really great role models, while at the same time letting the campus community get to know us, raise awareness and bring people together,” said Melissa Ireland, manager of Indigenous student services at the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

“We have a lot of partnerships in a lot of different departments, so sometimes it’s a great excuse to gather and share and combine partnerships and those resources.”

Other activities included in the week are a soup and bannock lunch, a lecture with Sarain Fox, a Métis dot art workshop and concludes with a final lecture from Lee Maracle on Friday afternoon.

“We have some internal programming we specifically market and target to First Nations, Inuit and Métis students; we don’t have the space capacity and resources to run programming for all students all the time, so this is a week we can really open the doors and celebrate,” Ireland said.

“We want to promote that we are on this campus to other students and we do have probably the most attendance at these activities that we do during this week.” The Office of Indigenous Initiatives hosts many events throughout the year, like soup lunches, teachings about parts of Indigenous culture like the big drum and song sharing, as well as talks with Indigenous professionals in many different career paths like writing, art and music.

“I am so excited for Sarain Fox to be coming to campus: she’s a youth leader, she’s an actor, an advocate and so many Indigenous youth, whether or not they know who she is, when they see her they recognize her,” Ireland said.

“We took students last year to the Trent Youth & Elders gathering and she did a presentation there and people were really inspired, we asked her to come and we think it’s a really big deal that she’s coming.”

The week is not only promoted and executed for Indigenous students to showcase their culture on campus and attend special events, but non-Indigenous students who wish to learn more about Indigenous culture and get educated on just what goes on in traditional practices.

“They can be exposed to Indigenous folks or activities they may have never been able to before, as who usually has the opportunity to do loom beading or print screening or Métis dot art, they may not have the chance to see art or artists in a real contemporary way,” Ireland said.

“It’s a chance to see that Indigenous students and community are here on campus and we’re active, prominent and worth celebrating.”

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