New Aboriginal Council co-chair paved the way as a student
Marlene Brant Castellano (Arts '55), the second First Nations student to attend Queen’s, has returned to the institution nearly six decades later as co-chair of the Aboriginal Council at Queen’s University (ACQU).
“It is exciting going from a lone First Nations student in a totally foreign sea 60 years ago to now where Queen’s is doing many new things to acknowledge and honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis presence,” she says. “I think this is a very important time in the history of Aboriginal peoples, communities and studies at Queen’s, and I am honoured to be part of that.”
Dr. Castellano, a Mohawk from Tyendinaga (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte), served as a faculty member in the Department of Native Studies at Trent University from 1973 to 1996. She was co-director of research with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1992 to 1996.
“I was very pleased when the Aboriginal community members on the ACQU selected Dr. Castellano to be co-chair,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “Her involvement will follow through on the excellent advice she and the two other elders, Eileen Antone and Shirley Williams, provided to the Equity Office in their recent review of the needs of aboriginal students, staff and faculty.”
Dr. Castellano intends to listen to students’ and other community members’ concerns as the Aboriginal community co-chair. She wants to ensure that input is channelled into agendas and addressed in reports.
Dr. Castellano has read the recent Aboriginal review and the new Academic Plan. She sees the ACQU playing a vital role in turning the good intentions in the planning documents into action on the ground.
“Senior university leaders are saying this is a turning point and that there will be solid action to make Queen’s a more welcoming environment for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students,” she says. “The next challenge is to determine how that’s reflected in curriculum, offerings, options and eventually degrees at Queen’s.”
Queen’s honoured Dr. Castellano with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1991. She became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005 and earned the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for education in 1996.