In recognition and celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Conestoga held in-person and virtual events for the college community to participate in and learn about Indigenous cultures. The national day celebrates the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Students and employees participating in the Creators Game Teachings event as part of Conestoga's National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations.
“This week has been an exercise in reconciliation in action. Indigenous Initiatives and Student Services had an excellent experience partnering with Athletics & Recreation and Library & Learning Services to bring these events to life. Not only did we deliver a week of amazing programming together, but we had fun while doing it, built meaningful partnerships, and offered opportunities for students, staff and faculty to celebrate Indigenous people and culture,” said Danielle Boissoneau, director, Indigenous Initiatives at the college.
The Creators Game Teachings event with Kevin Sandy, Cayuga Nation, of Haudenosaunee Lacrosse, welcomed Conestoga students and employees on June 19 at the Student Recreation Centre outdoor field at the Kitchener - Doon campus.
The interactive experience had attendees participate in traditional games, including double ball, bone and toggle, longball, wooden stick drills, contemporary lacrosse play, tug of war and rope games. The event began by introducing facilitators and their stories, followed by the origins of the stickball game teachings.
“Our ways are so awesome because we’re just out here living off the land and continuing to ensure our beautiful ways will continue to move on. These games are all medicine games. Where’s the medicine? It’s in your own beautiful spirit, and it’s in the stick that you utilize, that you play with,” said Sandy.
A webinar, Exploring the Power and Potential of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Education on June 20 discussed advancing Indigenous Knowledge in academics, programming and student engagement. Boissoneau and Trish Weigel-Green, vice president, Students, joined Practical Nursing student Michelle Rehel as she introduced Jodie Williams, co-chair of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Association of Ontario, and Isaac Murdoch, visual artist and storyteller, from Serpent River First Nation as they discussed how academic institutions can include Indigenous knowledge systems.
Williams and Murdoch outlined the importance of using correct terminology and names of nations and communities as well as including learning opportunities that connect directly to the land. They also discussed how technology, such as virtual gatherings, helps people connect and start conversations, but it doesn’t have to end there, that relationship building takes place on the land.
On June 22, Author Panel: The Art of Storytelling took place at The Venue, Kitchener - Doon campus. Co-hosted by Library and Learning Services, Indigenous Initiatives and Student Services, local co-authors Clarence Cachagee and Seth Ratzlaff, and author January Marie Rogers reflected on their perspective works and reclaiming Indigenous storytelling.
Conestoga’s Be-Dah-Bin Gamik, a Place of New Beginning, provides services and ongoing support for Indigenous students to assist with a smooth transition to college life. Services include various social and cultural events and activities, traditional counselling, and Elders-in-Residence programs.
Visit Conestoga’s website to learn more about Indigenous initiatives at the college.