Canada’s shared heritage

Julie Pigeon, Durham College aboriginal Student Advisor, says Canadians have a lack of awareness about indigenous people in this country. But she says DC is trying to change that. In fact, you may have seen some of the posters around the campus that attempt to raise awareness.

The elders of the tribe teach lesson to the the youth through song.
The elders of the tribe teach lesson to the the youth through song.

Schools such as the University of Winnipeg are also making steps forward in assuring Canada’s shared history is maintained.

Last year, the university’s senate unanimously approved the motion requiring all students to take at least one indigenous studies class to graduate. This includes any course that focuses on the rights, history, and traditions of indigenous culture.

More recently, the University of Guelph announced plans to hire five professors of aboriginal descent. The university also intends to boost graduate scholarships to students who identify as aboriginal.

On campus, the Durham College Aboriginal Student Centre is here to lend a hand to students who identify as indigenous, to encourage the best college experience possible. As the centre enters the second phase of its self-identification campaign, it also looks to help educate non-aboriginal students on campus.

In addition to hiring more indigenous faculty at all different levels, the Centre’s lead focus is to indigenize the campus in every sense, including the medical world as well, by offering traditional Inuit and native remedies.

Earlier this year, the college held an Aboriginal Awareness Day. The event included dancers wearing beaded garments, traditional art, music and foods.

Pigeon says Canada did not become a country independently, but with the support of the British colony and in partnership with the native tribes of the land.

She says aboriginal history is embedded in this country as much, if not more, than that brought by early European settlers.

“The history of Canada [began] before the settlers arrived,” says Pigeon. “It’s about acknowledgement of the true history of Canada.”