Leaf with smiley face

Wakatshennón:ni (I am happy)

It’s the time of the year where the snow keeps falling and spring’s warmth seems far away, where midterms are almost here, yet the end is months away. It can turn you into a bit of a hermit and an Eeyore. Well, that ends now! The crew at Student Life is here to help chase your bleakness, blahs and blues away with #JoyAtUofT. All week, we’ll be posting things that bring us cheer, ways to find your own happiness and events and contests to get your serotonin pulsing. So, what brings me joy on campus? When I first attended university as a mature student, I figured clubs and social events were for newcomers to Toronto and students much younger than me. I’ve lived here long before I attended U of T and have a healthy social circle and life outside of school. I had that sort of clock-in, clock-out mentality, so other than chatting with some people in my classes, I really didn’t connect with anyone in my first semester.

A photo of Turtle Lounge on the 2nd floor of First Nations House

However, I started doing some volunteer work with First Nations House and joined their listserv for upcoming events and opportunities. I realized by second semester that by only focusing on my studies and grades, I was missing out on the parts of university that can’t be taught in classroom, things like networking, making new friends that share your interests and being part of a community. In a massive school like U of T, it’s comforting to go somewhere where people know your name and vice-versa, where you can stop and have a chat, some cedar tea and coffee, not to mention there is ALWAYS food (another thing that makes me happy). There have been bountiful opportunities for lectures, socials, volunteer work, financial and other assistance, not to mention the space itself is beautiful and comfortable. Here are just a few things that have brought me joy at First Nations House:
  • Decorating for a Halloween party (one of my favourite days of the year) and having an amazing lunch while listening to spooky Indigenous stories.
  • Hearing a powerful talk Water is Life by Winona LaDuke, an American environmentalist, economist, and writer.
  • Attending the First Nations House 25th Anniversary at the President's Estate
  • The endless chances to engage in dialogue about Indigenous language, identity, politics, culture and futures, with ongoing guest lecturers and special appearances
  • Hearing laughter and jokes always coming from the study space.
  • Free printing! (That adds up)
  • Food! Always food!
  • Learning traditional beading techniques and how to make baby moccasins.
  • Finding a paid writing position (always one of my goals)
  • Free tickets to see Ipperwash, a highly-rated play
  • Offered financial assistance to help with expenses while in school
  • Encouraged to apply for an Indigenous summer exchange program in New Zealand (which I am still waiting on!)
  • Hearing people speak Indigenous languages, seeing Elders and having access to a wide variety of Indigenous resources for research and leisure

Birchbark canoe display at First Nations House

  I’ve also found friends and a comfortable, warm and quiet study space. Most importantly, reconnected with a sense of identity that has always been lacking in my life. Walking into First Nations House and smelling sage brings me an inner calm and balance. If you feel like you are lacking something on campus, I highly encourage you to find clubs or social groups that suit your interest. I hope it will make you as happy as it makes me! Have a great (and joyful) week. Join the conversation! Follow @UofTStudentLife on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for chances to WIN some cozy prizes, and spread the joy at U of T using the hashtag #JoyAtUofT

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