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Indigenous Education Week!

First Nations House is celebrating their 25th anniversary at U of T and this week marks the beginning of Indigenous Education Week! All events are free and open to the public. (Click here for Facebook events page) (Click here for First Nations House page)

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This week-long event kicks off with the Elder’s Gathering at First Nations House today, Monday, October 30th from 11:00am-4:00pm. Elders play a crucial role in Indigenous cultures as teachers, gatekeepers of knowledge, values, culture and oral history. In addition, they play many ceremonial roles such as smudging, prayers, and initiating sweetgrass ceremonies. First Nations House has their very own Elder-in-residence, Andrew Wesley and Traditional Teacher-in-residence, Lee Maracle. I look forward to stopping by and hope to share some of my experiences next week. There are also many other amazing events going on such as Field Trip / First Story TO / Indigenous Histories of Tkaronto, which is a walking tour that explores Indigenous histories on and near campus. This event takes place on Thursday from 2:00-5:00pm and registration is required. First Story works to preserve and garner awareness to the long-standing Indigenous presence in Tkaronto, and they even have an app with archives, photos, videos and historical documents that map Indigenous history via Google Maps! Search “First Story Comap” on Android or ‘First Story Toronto’ in the Google Play or App Stores.

First Story Logo with compass and bear paw print

I actually am taking an Indigenous Language course (Mohawk) with Professor Ryan DeCaire. One of the students in my class is going into pre-med, and when I asked why he decided to take a language course he said that being able to understand other worldviews about medicine, language and health will make him a better physician. I thought that was such an interesting and amazing point of view, so I just thought I’d share that little anecdote as a lead in to my next point. On Thursday, Ojibwe Kokomis/Teacher Jacqui Lavalley, who is an Elder at OISE, will offer a teaching on Asemaa (Tobacco) and how this medicine is used among the Anishinaabeg. If you are interested in health and sciences, learning about Indigenous medicines is an amazing opportunity to round out your knowledge.

Branch/flower medicine

To close the week’s events, there is also a CKQ / SAGE Drum Social with Eagle Heart Big Drum. This will include a feast and giveaway, and there will also be opportunity to learn how to make a beaded poppy for Remembrance Day. For you history buffs, Indigenous contribution to World War I has been underemphasized, but there were many First Nations soldiers that contributed to the war effort, including Francis Pegahmagabow, the most effective sniper in World War I. Whether you are in engineering, arts and sciences or business, opportunities to engage and learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, history, culture and education are plentiful this week and always. I think that in order to become a well-rounded and educated person, it doesn’t always have to be within the confines of Western knowledge and Eurocentric knowledge. I’ll be posting on LifeatUofT’s social media this week, so please follow along! You can also join the conversation on social media the the hashtag #UofTIEW2017 Have a great week!

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