Indigenous
History
Month

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Indigenous History Month at Laurier

A message to the Laurier Community from Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor and Darren Thomas, Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Initiatives.

Celebrating the Indigenous Community at Laurier

Wilfrid Laurier University celebrates Indigenous History Month and the Indigenous students, staff, faculty and community.

Laurier is proud to foster a community that embraces Indigenous initiatives as part of our institutional identity. Throughout Indigenous History Month and the rest of the year, we invite you to learn about incredible Indigenous students, thoughtful researchers, and supportive staff members. Laurier has been working toward the goal of Indigenization, a term that reflects the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into the daily life of the university.

National Indigenous History Month, held in June, is an opportunity for the Laurier community to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.

You can support Laurier’s commitment to building capacity in Indigenous education on all of its campuses under the leadership of Indigenous students, faculty and staff, by making a donation in support of Indigenous Initiatives today.

Laurier’s Land Acknowledgement

Wilfrid Laurier University and its campuses are located on the shared traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples and symbolizes the agreement to share, protect our resources and not to engage in conflict.

From the Haldimand Proclamation of Oct. 25, 1784, this territory is described as “six miles deep from each side of the river (Grand River) beginning at Lake Erie and extending in the proportion to the Head of said river, which them and their posterity are to enjoy forever.”

The proclamation was signed by the British with their allies, the Six Nations, after the American Revolution. Despite being the largest reserve demographically in Canada, those nations now reside on less than five per cent of this original territory.

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. It is a day to celebrate the heritage, culture and contributions of Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. National Indigenous Peoples Day falls on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and was chosen for its important symbolism to many Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Student Centre

Supporting Truth and Reconciliation on Campus

Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair has stated that education is the key to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. In recognition of the critical role universities must play in the reconciliation process, Laurier is committed to building capacity in Indigenous education on all of its campuses under the leadership of Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Support from Laurier donors play a vital role in the university’s ongoing efforts to eliminate barriers for Indigenous learners, and helps to ensure Indigenous students who are studying at Laurier have the resources and support needed to thrive.

Learn About the Legacy of Residential Schools

On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Laurier's Office of Indigenous Initiatives shared a pre-recorded video to communicate truths about the legacy and harms of residential schools. Hear from Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Initiatives Darren Thomas as he interviews Six Nations community member Sherlene Bomberry and PhD candidate in the Department of History at Laurier Cody Groat.

Student Community

Laurier is committed to fostering a positive student experience for Indigenous students. Whether you need academic or personal support, financial assistance or career advice, the Indigenous Student Centres are where you’ll find a space to study, hang out with friends, or continue on your journey of identity through cultural programming.

Laurier students are known for getting involved, building community, achieving academic excellence and taking on leadership roles to make a positive impact on the world around them. Have an amazing story to tell? Connect with us at indigenous@wlu.ca.

Helping Indigenous Students Thrive

Laurier’s Indigenous Student Centres serve as a place for Indigenous students to connect with services and with each other. At the student centres you can find access to:

  • academic and personal counselling
  • funding, scholarship and bursary assistance
  • community outreach
  • research support
  • cultural programming
  • weekly soup lunches
  • access to traditional medicines
  • admissions assistance
  • Indigenous Academic Success Program and access to peer tutoring
  • Indigenous alumni networking
  • medicine gardens

Meet the Team

Meet the incredible staff at the Indigenous Student Centres who offer support to Indigenous students support at the university.

Stephanie Absalom

Indigenous Student Support Coordinator – Waterloo, Kitchener, and Milton

Stephanie (she/her) is Mohawk First Nations of the Haudenosaunee on her father’s side. She was raised in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region and is a Laurier alumna who graduated in 2021 with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology. In her current role, Stephanie works with students and the university to support students’ needs and helps organize programming for the Indigenous Student Centre.

Stephanie Absalom

Emily Daniel

Manager of Indigenous Student Services

Emily (she/her) is Anishinaabe Kwe with lineage from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. She works to support the Indigenous Student Services team at the Brantford and Waterloo campuses.

Emily Daniel

Jesse Gagnon

Indigenous Student Support Coordinator – Brantford

Jesse (they/them) is Afro-Indigenous. They are Anishinaabeg with lineage from Odanak First Nation on their mother’s side and Trinidadian lineage on their father’s side. A Laurier alum, Jesse graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Social Work. As a student, Jesse worked closely with Margaret Neveau at the Indigenous Student Centre as an assistant. In their current role, Jesse provides support and programming for online and in-person students at Laurier’s Brantford campus.

Jesse Gagnon

Zeeta Lazore Cayuga

Learning Consultant, Indigenous Academic Success Program

Shé:kon sewakwé:kon! Zeeta yónkyats, Ononta’kehá:ka nì’i. Ohswé:ken nitewaké:no. Zeeta (akaónha/she/her) is Onondaga from Six Nations. As a learning consultant, Zeeta can meet one on one with students on the Waterloo and Brantford campuses to develop their learning skills and facilitate academic success programming for undergraduate and graduate students.

Zeeta Lazore Cayuga

Margaret Neveau

Indigenous Student Counsellor

Margaret (she/her) is Anishinaabekwe from Batchewana First Nation located on the Eastern shores of Lake Superior. She has over 10 years of experience providing cultural, social, physical and emotional support to students. Margaret’s Anishinaabe name is Neegaabeeshbesingkwe, which translates to mean “water that falls woman.”

Margaret Neveau

Take a Peek into the Updated Indigenous Student Centres

The Indigenous Student Centres on the Brantford and Waterloo campuses have both undergone renovations for much-needed enhancements. And there’s more to come! Additional upgrades will continue over the next few years.

Indigenous Student Centre Brantford

Onkwehonwè:ne Brantford Campus

In Brantford, the generous support of the Grundy Family helped renovate Onkwehonwè:ne Brantford Campus. This enhanced Indigenous Student Centre creates a larger supportive and nurturing space for Laurier’s growing Indigenous student community, allows for much-needed staff and programming expansion, and increases vital access to academic programs and assistance with career development to further enhance employment options for Indigenous students.

Indigenous Student Centre Waterloo

Nadjiwan Kaandossiwin Gamik – Beautiful Place of Learning

Thanks to generous philanthropic investment, Lucinda House was renovated into an enhanced Indigenous Student Centre on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. This beautiful space provides a place where Laurier’s Indigenous student community can participate in ceremony and activities; where Laurier can demonstrate its commitment to Indigenous culture and learning, and to Indigenous students’ success; and where Indigenous students can find a “home away from home” on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

Laurier offers gratitude to the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Students’ Union, the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association, Mr. Ken Flood and the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association for their significant gifts in support of this project.

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The Meaning Behind the Logo

Based on the Haudenosaunee creation story, our logo reminds us of how the first seeds of life on Earth were planted on the back of a turtle. The inner segments of the dome represent the Anishnaabe (Ojibway) Seven Grandfather Teachings: love, respect, wisdom, bravery, truth, honesty and humility. The golden rays of the sun symbolize enlightenment, learning and new beginnings. The Métis beaded purple flower represents the gifts of plant life from the Skyworld, which encourage and sustain life. The entire design rests on the waters of life.

Count Yourself In!

Join over a thousand undergraduate and graduate students in completing Laurier’s Student Self-Identification Form. Hosted by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the voluntary form gathers demographic and identity-related information to get a better understanding of Laurier's student community and to identify and address inequities.

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Staff and Faculty Community

Laurier is working toward the goal of Indigenization, a term that reflects the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into the daily life of the university. Indigenization at Laurier fosters enriching and supportive partnerships, an inclusive community and integrated Indigenous knowledge across the university.

Explore stories celebrating Indigenous staff and faculty members at Laurier who are inspiring others with their leadership.

Working Towards Reconciliation

Meet Darren Thomas, Laurier’s associate vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives. As Laurier’s most senior Indigenous leader, Thomas provides strategic advice, support and expertise to academic and administrative units across the university to achieve goals related to Indigeneity, including creating an environment of cultural safety for Indigenous faculty, staff, students and visitors. Learn about Thomas and his goals for the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Laurier.

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4 Seasons of Reconciliation

A new training program focused on Indigeneity, truth and reconciliation has garnered high rates of participation among employees at Wilfrid Laurier University. In December 2020, Laurier made the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation course, an online course developed by First Nations University of Canada, available to employees at the Brantford and Waterloo campuses and Kitchener location. More than 550 employees, including all managers and members of Laurier’s executive leadership team, have completed the course to date.

Children are Sacred: A Fundraising Concert in Recognition of Orange Shirt Day

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021, Laurier’s Faculty of Music held a special Music at Noon fundraising concert for the Woodland Cultural Centre, which serves to promote Indigenous history, art, language and culture. The concert features Indigenous performers Barbara Assiginaak, Sonny-Ray Day Rider, Cara Loft and Rene Meshake.

Spotlight on Research

Discover the work of some of Laurier’s Indigenous researchers and emerging new Indigenous research methodologies at Laurier and beyond.

Indigenous Healing: Voices of Elders and Healers

Gus Hill, associate professor of Social Work and the Lyle S. Hallman Chair in Child and Family Welfare, shares why he wrote his very personal book Indigenous Healing: Voices of Elders and Healers. Hill describes the importance of sharing traditional Indigenous healing practices with mainstream Canadian society.

Indigenous Geographies in the Yucatan

Miguel Sioui, an assistant professor in Laurier’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, speaks about his book Indigenous Geographies in the Yucatan:Learning From the Responsibility-Based Maya Environmental Ethos. He explains the land ethos of "being part of the land," specifically among the Mayan community of Xuilub (Yucatan), Mexico, and describes "responsibility-based" thinking.

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Indigenous Undergraduate Students Take on Summer Research Internships

Few summer jobs enable students to make money, accumulate hands-on research experience and prepare themselves for graduate studies, yet eight Indigenous undergraduate students at Laurier had the opportunity to do just that. In summer 2021, they each participated in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) program.

MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ Action Plan Led by Percy Lezard

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report in June 2019, which included 231 Calls for Justice. In response to Call for Justice 1.1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commissioned a national action plan. Percy Lezard, assistant professor of Indigenous Studies at Laurier, was selected to lead its development and co-authored the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Sub-Working Group's MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan: Final Report.

Cold War Colonialism with Lianne Leddy

In this webinar, Leddy, associate professor of Indigenous Studies, discusses Serpent River First Nation’s resilience in confronting colonial extractive practices during the Cold War period. Relying on oral and archival research methods, she shows how Anishinaabek responses to the devastating impacts of uranium mining in their territory were framed by a powerful understanding of health and homeland. Leddy recently published a book entitled Serpent River Resurgence: Confronting Uranium Mining at Elliot Lake.

Alumni Community

Laurier alumni are working to build inclusive, thriving communities. Explore stories of Indigenous alumni who are using their Laurier experiences to make an impact wherever they go.

Charity Fleming speaks truth about Canada's response to Truth and Reconciliation

In this special edition episode for National Indigenous Month, we welcome Charity Fleming (MSW `09), an Indigenous social worker and an intergenerational survivor of the residential school and sixties scoop programs. She has dedicated her life to aiding the recovery of indigenous people from experiences and impacts of historical trauma.

Charity Fleming

The Impact of the Indigenous Knowledge Fund

The Indigenous Knowledge Fund was created to support students learning directly from Indigenous knowledge holders, both inside and outside of the classroom. This form of experiential and engaged learning about Indigenous topics directly from Indigenous people is an invaluable opportunity for the Laurier community and helps to build reciprocal relationships between Laurier community members and Indigenous community members.

Over the past year, 19 speakers on topics such as the Land Back movement, two spirit identities, and the impact of the criminal justice system, were supported by the Indigenous Knowledge Fund.