Office of Aboriginal Initiatives | Newsletter
Premiere Issue • October 2013
What is the Aboriginal initiative? Laurier began developing an Aboriginal Initiative in 2009 with a part-time worker based at the Brantford campus and a committee of staff and faculty. That year, the Aboriginal Education Council was created with university administrators, staff, faculty, students and Aboriginal community members. Their purpose is to promote a positive educational experience and success for Aboriginal students at Laurier and to oversee the mandate from the Ministry of Education to close the gap in postsecondary education for Aboriginal people. The Office of Aboriginal Initiatives (OAI) was established in July 2010 with the hiring of a senior advisor: Aboriginal Initiatives, a position currently held by Jean Becker. This office is responsible for overseeing the development of Aboriginal services,
curriculum, internal relations and education in regard to Aboriginal peoples, cultures and issues across Laurier faculties and with building
to Aboriginal students in partnership with student services, learning services, the diversity office and many other departments and faculties across our campuses. “The only reason for our existence is Warm and welcoming spaces, the centres our students. That’s why we’re here. welcome all Laurier They are our future and they’re also students, staff and faculty to participate our present.” JEAN BECKER in cultural activities, to meet Aboriginal people external relations with Indigenous of many nations, and learn about and mainstream governments, Aboriginal issues. organizations and communities. Kandice Baptiste, the Aboriginal Aboriginal student support recruitment and retention officer coordinators at the Brantford was hired in 2011 and began a busy and Waterloo campuses were also schedule of recruitment across hired in 2010. Melissa Ireland is at Ontario, including into northern the Aboriginal Student Centre in fly-in communities in the winter. Waterloo and Bonnie Whitlow is at Our team was completed with hiring the Brantford house. The Aboriginal our administrative support worker, student centres provide academic, Laurie Minor, in 2012 who is based at personal, social, and cultural support the Waterloo campus.
COMMON READING PROGRAM
Richard Wagamese: Speaking from the heart By Jean Becker Richard Wagamese speaks from the heart. His is a heart that has seen and experienced much in this life and has gained some wisdom from it all. You can feel it though reading his books, such as Indian Horse, Laurier’s inaugural choice for the Common Reading Program. To hear him speak in person is both moving and inspiring in a way that can never be precisely described. You had to be there. That’s the way it is with our storytellers, it is all experiential and in the moment. You feel it. All we can do later is gush about how deeply touched we felt in those moments.
What I can narrate for you, is that a group of us: students, faculty, alumni and community members, gathered at Laurier’s Seminary Chapel on Wednesday September 18th to hear Richard speak about his novel, Indian Horse, his life, and the journey of healing and storytelling. He spoke fearlessly and honestly about residential school, abuse, hope, hockey and redemption. Richard Wagamese, for those yet unfamiliar, is Ojibwe from Wabaseemoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario and one of Canada’s foremost Aboriginal authors. He currently resides in Kamloops BC. His novel Ragged Company was
chosen for the 2013 Waterloo Region One Book One Community (OBOC) and while in town he was presented with the 2013 Canada Council Molson Prize in the Arts.