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Office of Aboriginal Initiatives

Tunngasugit Greeting Term–Tunngasugit (with emphasis on first syllable, pronounced: Toong-a-soo-geet), is Inuktitut word meaning: Welcome

NEWSLETTER • winter 2014

Hug a Pug For those who are dog people, there is no greater joy than sitting down and playing with your puppy. For some reason, doggie kisses can melt away stress, and playing with a dog can almost immediately reduce anxiety. This past semester, Rachael Simon, psychology student and member of the Aboriginal Student Leadership team, organized an event with her puppy Otis, to help other students reduce stress and anxiety before exams. She called her event Hug-A-Pug and rallied her friends to bring in their dogs.

Aboriginal Student Centres 187 Albert Street, Waterloo

By Laurie Minor

Tuesday December 3rd was proclaimed Hug-A-Pug day at the Aboriginal Student Centre. Build it and they will come, someone said… and they did! Otis, Rachael’s four-month-old pug, Nox, Heather’s two-year-old beagle-sharpei mix, and Sinder, Laurie’s six-month-old boxer, entertained and amused exam stressed students who needed a good laugh. Puppies played and chased each other, in addition to giving random kisses to students and sitting on laps. Continued on page 2

“No matter how stressed you are at school, you come home and these dogs love you no matter what.” rachael simon


111 Darling Street, Brantford @WLUAboriginal

Inside this issuE

Keith Barker..............................................2 Professor & staff profiles.........................3 Community engagement........................3 Studying together....................................4 Language fact...........................................4 Student success.......................................4 Student centre.........................................5 Cultural exchange....................................6 Kandice goes to Washington..................7 Community news.....................................7

Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Winter 2014

From the Senior Advisor: Jean Becker Our first Aboriginal Initiatives newsletter in the fall highlighted some of the many activities, people and issues surrounding Aboriginal development here at Laurier. In this newsletter we bring you more news and insight into the growing Aboriginal community at Laurier and the important work being done by many people to enhance the Aboriginal student experience and to make

faculties and departments, from students, staff and administrators to create an environment at Laurier that encourages Aboriginal students to become the leaders who will be future “…encourages Aboriginal students change agents in to become the leaders who will our communities. We particularly be future change agents in our acknowledge the work communities.” Jean Becker of the Aboriginal Education Council and the community members in the Aboriginal student centres. who selflessly give their time and There are far too many to name expertise to guide the Initiative. individually but we appreciate the support we receive from across the Aboriginal education available to all Laurier students. Inspiring lives of Leadership and Purpose is nowhere more evident or imperative than it is

Guest speaker

PUG: Continued from page 1

Keith Barker: Using drama and storytelling to bring awareness to social issues By Spy Denommé-Welsh October 24-25th, 2013 marked another step towards the critical work of teaching and learning about First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues and perspectives at Laurier. The Faculty of Education and the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives together co-hosted a public university event that welcomed an exciting artist, Keith Barker, to read from his awardwinning play, The Hours That Remain. Barker’s play addresses urgent subject matter concerning the disappearance of Aboriginal women in Canada. Barker discussed significant social issues affecting Indigenous peoples in contemporary Canadian society. This public event was positively received and a deeper


discussion concerning the issues his work addresses was opened up among the attendees that evening on October 24th. The following day, Barker met with two large groups of teacher education candidates and gave an impassioned presentation about the important role of educators, and discussed the various themes his play tackles. Educators walked away with a more profound understanding of the impact of art and theatre, and how drama and storytelling can be used as a valuable educational tool for developing greater social awareness of contemporary issues.

“No matter how stressed you are at school, you come home and these dogs love you no matter what,” said Simon. UW psychology major, Heather Burke, Rachael’s roommate came to the event with Nox. “Having a dog has matured me very quickly,” said Burke. “It’s a lot of responsibility so I’ve definitely given up on the party lifestyle that’s associated with being a student.” “Stress can be overwhelming for students and simply having a dog around and laughing at the dog being really goofy and being able to pet it can be a great way to de-stress, especially for those who had to leave their pets back home,” said Minor. Stress reducing puppy antics events were held before exams at the Aboriginal Student Centre and at the Keffer Chapel in the Seminary. More doggie love is planned at the ASC for before the winter exam period and we will keep you posted. Look for updates on our website and on Facebook.

Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Professor Profile

community engagement

Understanding the well-being of Indigenous women and families Associate Professor Kim Anderson (Cree/Métis), has devoted her career to researching and writing about the health and well-being of Indigenous women and families. As a consultant working in communitybased settings for twenty years, Kim has extensive experience with Aboriginal organizations and communities, and has produced numerous social and health policy reports and studies. Her books include A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood (Sumach/Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2000) and Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings and Story Medicine (University of Manitoba Press, 2011). Kim has published book chapters and journal articles covering the subjects of

Indigenous motherhood, Indigenous feminism, Indigenous women and governance, Indigenous family wellbeing and health research ethics in Indigenous communities. Anderson is the Principal Investigator on a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant entitled “Biidwewidam Indigenous Masculinities.” She teaches Indigenous Studies at the Brantford campus and lives in Guelph with her partner and their teenage children. A gifted musician, Kim and her son, who plays the fiddle, bring joy to many community events with rousing Metis jigs.

staff Profile

Staff and student–balancing an active Laurier life Corri Arnold, Cree and a member of George Gordon First Nation in Punnichy, Saskatchewan is the assistant to the Vice President: Academic and Provost at Laurier where she has worked since 2007. In addition to her active and busy full-time


Winter 2014

job, she is actively pursuing her BA at Laurier as a part-time student, a member of Laurier’s Aboriginal Students’ Association and the mother of two beautiful daughters. As an adoptee born and raised in Calgary, Corri seeks to continually learn more about her heritage and strives to participate and engage in Aboriginal culture in an urban and contemporary context.

Have a Heart social The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) began the Have a Heart Campaign following the dismissal in 2011 on a technicality, of a lawsuit against Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada that alleged “a longstanding pattern of providing less government funding for child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves than is provided to non-Aboriginal children in Canada.” Charisse Sayer, AFS administrative coordinator in the Faculty of Social Work has a heart. For the second year, she has organized a Valentine’s Day social at the FSW building in Kitchener, to spread awareness and support for the campaign to ensure First Nations children have proper services that make them feel proud of who they are.

Lacrosse Day October 2013 October 4th was supposed to be a rainy day but the weather was fine and it turned out to be a day of laughs, exploration and friendly competition. We hosted approximately 70 students from Six Nations and Mississaugas of the New Credit at the Waterloo campus to enjoy a day of Lacrosse with a Laurier flair. Students were treated to a day of skills and drills led by Allan Downey (PhD student, Nak’azdli First Nation) with help from Laurier’s Women’s Lacrosse team, Roger Vyse (Six Nations, Buffalo Bandits) and Josh Powless (Six Nations, Dreamcatcher Foundation). After a morning of skill building, students ate pizza and enjoyed Aboriginal Students’ Association Vice-President, Rachael Simon’s talk about her path to Laurier. Students got a campus tour which included a stop at the Aboriginal Student Centre’s new Community Garden and the day finished with Lacrosse scrimmages. The main feedback– students wished the day was longer so they could play more Lacrosse! We’re looking forward to hosting the students again next year!


Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Winter 2014

Intergenerational impact of residential schools– a son & mother’s story Lila Bruyere and Shawn Johnston are a mother/son team in Laurier’s MSW Aboriginal Field of Study (AFS) in Kitchener this year. At the November AFS Student Conference they did a presentation, Intergenerational Trauma: Son & Mother’s Story when they discussed the intergenerational impact of residential school, using their own family to illustrate the topic. Shawn explains, “We have always been open with each other and understand how intergenerational trauma has affected the lives of our family and community members. We hope by sharing our experience we can raise awareness and educate others about the need for more services, not only for survivors but also their families. “Presenting with my mother for the first time was an honour,” he said. “Since our presentation, we have been invited to speak to classrooms at both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. We plan to continue educating and raising awareness about intergenerational

trauma and other issues stemming from the impact of the residential school system”. Lila started her career facilitating Residential School educational workshops to address the need to educate all Canadians about this history. It was at this time that she began sharing her story of her time in residential school and the impact it had on her family. She says, “my healing journey began some years ago and I was blessed to have the opportunity of going through therapy with my three sons. It was hard to hear their pain but it helped us to grow as a family. It has been an honour for me to stand up and listen to my son share his past struggles knowing that now we will both be completing our MSW degrees together. Life was not a complete nightmare and we decided to take a negative story and turn it into a positive and for that I am grateful.” Lila and Shawn educate and touch people profoundly with this moving, personal account of the impacts of residential school, illustrating graphically how the impacts go beyond the survivors and touch succeeding generations.


proposition that, in saying, a speaker casts his words and his voice only as far as his vocabulary and his perception will enable him. In so doing the tribe was denying that there was absolute truth; that the best a speaker could achieve and a listener could expect was the highest degree of accuracy. Somehow that one expression “w’daebawae” set the limits of a single statement as well as setting limits on all speech.

Language is essential. If scholars and writers are to know how “Indians” perceive and regard certain ideas they must study an “Indian” language. When an “Anishinaubae” says that someone is telling the truth, he says “w-daeb-awae.” But the expression is not just a mere confirmation of a speaker’s veracity. It is at the same time a philosophical


Basil Johnston, Ojibway linguist Native Writers and Canadian Writing 1990 ed.W.H.New

student success

Summer NSERC USRA students Kristy Dockstader, a fifth-year Biology student, is on a mission to catalogue each invasive species we have in North America, a task that many may find tedious. However, under a microscope, each seed reveals a unique pattern the human eye cannot see. Kristy is working with Associate Professor of Biology, Mihai Costea, to catalogue seeds for a book, which will be used for seed identification. She catalogues six to seven seeds a day and her favourite part of being a research assistant is seeing things in a new way. “It’s a whole different world,” explains Kristy. “The patterned ridges show how each seed gets carried around, by wind or water.” Kristy is an NSERC undergraduate research award recipient and has worked at the lab, for three summers. Upon graduation, Kristy plans on pursuing a Master of Microbiology. “The award and the experience I’ve gained in the lab is truly invaluable. Our field is very competitive, and the lab gives me a step up—the more the better. Elizabeth (Liz) McLeod has been studying Kinesiology for the past three years and has just started her first year as a research assistant. During the summer, Liz studied the gait of humans to understand the neuro-mechanics behind human walking patterns. Liz has been working with Associate Professor of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Stephen Perry, who hopes to one day use this research to help prevent elder falls. Originally, Liz was interested in physiotherapy, but now has a growing interest in health promotion. The experience she has gained at the lab, exposes her to research protocols and new ideas everyday, as well as prepares her to fulfill her goal of obtaining a master’s degree in Kinesiology. In 2013, Liz won a prominent award for Aboriginal Youth Role model for Health Living. Matthew Benoit has found himself in a lab studying the effects of communications. An English major, Matthew finds the subject matter interesting and he loves the fact he can study during the summer at Laurier. His research examines “beat gestures,” the movement our hands make when we speak during ambiguous sentences. He views this opportunity as a great way to make connections with staff and other students and a chance to learn how to construct valid research projects and experiment stimuli. After completing his English degree, Matthew plans to attend law school and aspires to one day become a crown attorney. He views the lab assistant position as an amazing opportunity for any student.

Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Winter 2014

aboriginal student centre

Cooking Nights–sharing stories around the table The Aboriginal Student Centre (ASC) is noted for wonderful food smells wafting from the kitchen on a regular basis. Every second Friday during the fall of 2013, the kitchen was buzzing as a feast was cooked up by students. Starting with “3-Sisters” soup (corn, beans and squash), the students also prepared roast chicken and scalloped potatoes, pea soup, dahl and rice, quiche, sweet potato fries, kale salad and chicken alfredo. Beautiful bannock was created and we learned to make the dough, knead it and bake it in the oven. Delicious desserts were always a part of the feast, as students prepared pumpkin or cranberry custard, cinnamon buns, pudding pie, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas sweets. Everything was made from scratch, even the lemonade made from fresh lemons. The best thing about cooking nights was the sharing of skills and tasks, as well as stories from students from all over Canada. “I remember my grandmother used to make....” or “At home we had a special recipe for....” There was plenty of joking and laughing as people were slicing and mixing and stirring... and eating. When herbs like sage were needed, someone would run out to the

back garden and pick them fresh! Sometimes things would not turn out as expected, but it was always taken in stride: that’s how we learn. Leftovers were stored in the freezer or taken home for hungry friends or family. Once, after a wind storm made apples fall from a neighbour’s tree, bags of apples were given to the ASC. Everyone sat around the table and helped cut up these local organic apples, and they made delicious apple crisp. Some of it was brought back to the apple tree owner with thanks.

Overall, the feeling was one of building community through healthy, seasonal food. Many hands helped, ideas were shared, cooking techniques were learned from each other, and people ate together around the big table. Laurie, Melissa and Marie-Louise were the people behind all this organization! They planned, made posters, bought food and made sure the kitchen was in good order. Miigwetch to everyone. From Ellen Desjardins (who felt grateful to be welcomed into this warm group of people).

“It was a great opportunity for students to come together, try new dishes and meet other students, all while sharing stories around the dinner table. It feels like being back home.” shawn johnston

Eagle Feather Fall convocation at Laurier Waterloo’s campus saw the graduation of 37 MSW students from the Aboriginal Field of study in the Faculty of Social Work. Elder-in-residence, Gale Cyr presented each with an eagle feather as they crossed the stage. In bestowing the feather, the Elder is saying, “With this feather, we in the Aboriginal Field of Study, recognize your learning, healing and transformation as a holistic healing practitioner. Carry this eagle feather with pride and let it your helper. Treat


it with respect, do not allow alcohol or drugs to come near it, keep it clean and safe. Do not drop it and if you do, offer tobacco to pick up its’ spirit again. Treat this sacred feather with reverence and safe guard its’ spirit. In return it will guide and protect you as you continue on your journey.”


Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Winter 2014

AFS Students Organize First Nation Cultural Exchange Gena Edwards and Tina Copenace graduated in the fall of 2013 with MSW degrees after completing the Aboriginal Field of Study Program. While at school together and while looking at the possibilities being raised by the Idle No More movement for uniting Indigenous people, and inspired with the “sister cities” idea (many Canadian cities have a sister city in another part of the world), Edwards says, “We thought what a great idea we should become sister nations. They decided the best way would be to organize a trip where both would travel to the other’s home and experience each other’s culture first hand. With the support of chief and council in both communities, trips were planned and organized. In July of 2013, Edwards and 10 others, including elders, travelled over 2,000 km from Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation, British Columbia to Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining, Dalles, First Nation in the district of Kenora, Ontario. Among the many activities during their time in Ontario was


a trip on Lake Superior on the MS Kenora and the Dalles Powwow where they were honoured guests, before traveling by pontoon along the Winnipeg River for a day. “It’s very beautiful here,” said Edwards.

visit a sacred site and the traditional salmon run on the Fraser River. We were blessed to witness the healing of two women from each of our communities who shared their personal stories with one another. At the feast and give away we shared “Our youth, our future in ceremony, songs, medicines, food and a generations were there to be giveaway. We are now part of this beautiful exchange.” a sister Nation with each other. Our youth, Tina Copenace our future generations were there to be part of this beautiful exchange.” “It’s different for us to be on this kind of water. We’re on a main river back Edwards concluded, “We have home but it is so dangerous we can’t been colonized for so long, to build even go by it closely. We also don’t relationships like this is really a part see as many natives within our towns. of the decolonization process. It also There are so many natives within creates a better understanding on a Kenora itself which is really nice national level of First Nation’s needs to see, back home there’s still that for the future generations. Education divide.” is so important and that’s where Tina and I met.” Edward’s and Copenace’s Members of the experience is a testament to the Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining, Dalles, power of how Aboriginal education First Nation returned the visit with at Laurier is building relationships far a trip to BC in August 2013. Tina beyond our boundaries. reported, “We had an opportunity to

Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Winter 2014

Kandice goes to Washington …and L.A., Dallas, Atlanta and Kalamazoo Aboriginal Students Recruitment and Retention officer, Kandice Baptiste was one of five Canadians from the education sector chosen by the U.S. Department of State to participate in their International Visitor Leadership Program. The IVLP is a premier professional exchange program that brings current and emerging foreign leaders together in a variety of fields. The leaders come to the United States to experience the country first hand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. For three weeks starting in January, the Canadians travelled to Washington D.C., L.A., Dallas, Atlanta and Kalamazoo, learning about education in the U.S. as they went. It was clear from Kandice’s blog (, the trip was stimulating, exciting, educational

“Overall, the program was an incredible professional and personal development experience. I was able to travel with amazing people who have become friends, see some of the sights the US has to offer and learn about great work that people are doing every day.” and fun. In our next issue we will have some of Kandice’s reflections about

Kandice baptiste

what she experienced and learned through this opportunity.

community News

An unwavering community advocate retires Since 1985 Carol Musgrove has been the foundation, an unwavering advocate for Aboriginal people, the “go-to” person at the Weejeendimin Native Resource Centre in downtown Kitchener. On January 29, Carol cooked her last Wednesday lunch at the centre, retiring after 28 years of dedicated service to our community. The centre was filled with a crowd of community members, good smells, laughter and tears as people gathered


to wish Carol well as she left to move home to the Sault Ste. Marie area. The community will miss Carol’s kind, calm, non-judgemental presence in the city. As the first point of contact for numerous Aboriginal people arriving in KW, she became a friend to many. Cedar Hill Singers, the KW men’s drum, presented Carol with two eagle feathers at a reception held in her honour on January 26. They acknowledged her steadying influence when they were mischievous, thoughtless youth and needed the guidance, direction and loving firmness she so gracefully provided.

Through Carol’s guidance and selfless service, Weejeendimin has survived almost three decades of struggling for funding to keep the centre open, even working without pay at times. She leaves us a closer, better community because she was with us.


wilfrid laurier university Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter

Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto Winter 2014

Office of Aboriginal Initiatives

Aboriginal Awareness Week March 1 - 7

Aboriginal Day of Celebration Saturday March 1 Launch of Aboriginal Awareness Week

1 day • 3 events

Bridging communities through Song Join us before the concert for a silent auction & craft vendors from 1-2 pm

Special guest

Susan Aglukark

2-5 pm | Maureen Forrester Recital Hall | Tickets: $20 Contact: | 519.884.0710 x4313

day of celebration


Reception & Dinner


6-7:30 pm | Senate & Board Chamber

8 pm | Theatre Auditorium

Tickets: $10 each, cash only; limited number available Contact: | 519.884.0710 x4313

Tickets: FREE for Laurier and high schools students (with ID), $10 adults, $5 seniors (cash only) | Contact:

Spy DenommĂŠ-Welch, Catherine Magowan, composers

All March 1 events held at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Campus Visit for Aboriginal Awareness Week events at both Waterloo & Brantford campuses

Laurier - Office of Aboriginal Initiatives - Newsletter Winter 2014