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First Nations House: Introduction & Orientation

First Nations House: Introduction & Orientation

She:koli! Diane ní: yukyáts ohkwa:li niwaki’taló:t^ On^yota’a:ka: niwakuhutsyó:t^

Hi, my name is Diane, I am bear clan and my nation is the Oneida Nation of the Thames. Oneida is my First Nations community, located in southwestern Ontario, roughly 50km outside of the city of London, ON. I grew up on Oneida and moved to Toronto September 2012 to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. I am currently in my last year of undergrad, in which I am double majoring in Health Policy and Socio-cultural Anthropology.

I wanted to give a little background as to who I am and where I come from, this year I will be blogging out of First Nations House, and my posts will relate to my own personal experience being an Indigenous student at the university, and any relevant resources/events/happenings going on when it comes to student life.

The past weeks have been busy in terms of starting off the new school year. I got back from New Zealand about 3 weeks ago. My summer was very exciting and educational! I was fortunate enough to have spent 3 months as part of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship doing a research internship at Nga Pae which is the Maori Research Centre of Excellence. At Nga Pae I was able to have a rich experience of knowledge and cultural exchange and truly gained so much not only academically but also grew as a person. I would highly recommend this experience to other Indigenous students to take advantage of these opportunities that are out there. You can find more information about the QES here.

A photo of me at Piha Beach in New Zealand

To be honest coming back was a bit challenging. Not only was I leaving a beautiful mountainous land but I was also travelling in time. I arrived in Canada the first week of class and a combination of time change/jet lag made the transition a bit rough.

However, the first weeks back on campus have been good. A good welcome back was the orientation at First Nations House I attended last week. First Nations House is a great resource for Indigenous students on campus, located just north of Spadina and College. I have been connected since my first year and it is excellent for getting support in all areas of student life whether it be academically, financially or culturally. Places like First Nations House are so important for students to engage and come together in a meaningful way. For any new students, a great way to stay connected is through the Facebook page, following First Nations House on Twitter and emailing to sign up for the listserv, so you can keep up to date on events, scholarships and anything happening in the community!

I also got to pick up the agenda for Indigenous students, in which the cover art was created by Dene artist Lisa Boivin. This is great as it has all the dates for any awards or scholarships due for the year! Make sure to pick it up at First Nations House during your next visit.

A photo of the First Nations House Indigenous student agenda for the school year 2018 to 2019

The orientation consisted of a catered lunch by Powwow Café, which was so good. It was a lot of fun to see so many familiar faces and reconnect with people after the summer abroad. Like always its good to check in with other students, staff and faculty at First Nations House and the Centre for Indigenous Studies.

Students gathered in the Centre for Indigenous Studies

Afterwards some students and I headed over to the powwow happening at Ryerson University. Powwows are gatherings to celebrate Indigenous cultures and can include dancing, singing, foods, crafts, games. They are considered open events for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It’s also a great way to buy from local Indigenous artists and community members. I got a chance to catch up with Monique, better known as @monique.aura on Instagram. She is a Haudenosaunee artist who uses art as healing in her work, make sure to pick up a print by her if you ever see her booth!

Haudenosaunee Artist Monique Aura at her booth during the Ryerson powwow. Featured on the table are her prints for sale.

That’s all for me this week. Hope you enjoyed reading and I hope to meet new students this year!

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