Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre

Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre
Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre

Frequently Asked Questions

To assist the faculty, staff and students of Queen's University, we offer answers to questions pertaining to First Nations, Metis and Inuit students to support cultural awareness and requirements.

Where can I get an Indigenous perspective for my class and/or teaching resources?

The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, is located at 146 Barrie Street and is an excellent resource for both faculty and students who are looking for resources. The Centre can recommend books, journals, media, speakers, and assist in any other way required. In addition, these resources will assist the faculty to better introduce the Aboriginal perspective within class context so that Aboriginal students do not need to be called on to offer such input. The Aboriginal Teacher Education Program has an Indigenous-focused library and staff on hand to answer your questions. The Deepening Knowledge Project has many online Indigenous educational resources as well.

What do I do if I have a student who appears to be having questions about their cultural identity?

Often moving to another community is a difficult transition. If students are relocating from Northern Communities or even from local reserves, the upheaval of cultural practices, familiar sounds and smells may be difficult. If you encounter a student who appears to be having problems with a transition you may want to let them know that you are aware of their struggle. In some cases, the identity crisis may be that the student could be encountering their first experiences of being Native. Through adoptions or in some cases, urban education, a Native student may not have identified with their culture prior to coming to Queen's University. In either case, make reference to Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre on campus, and also that there are numerous Aboriginal community groups in the surrounding areas. We have links on our webpage for community agency contact information. For more specific information you may contact the Elder in Residence or Aboriginal Advisor by phone or e-mail to discuss your questions.

What are my legal responsibilities in terms of accommodating ceremonial and religious obligations of Aboriginal students?

According to the Human Rights Codes and the Canadian Constitution, Aboriginal rights, including those rights to practice ceremonial observances, are upheld. If a student has requested time away to attend ceremony and will be missing classes, they should make arrangements to complete the missed work, assignments, tests. Arrangements should be made in advance of the missed time, and with open dialogue as to how the best solution to accommodate could be.

If a student missed time for a death or other emergency, students and faculty should still communicate the situation and how to resolve the missed time. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff are available to assist with correspondence and to further explain protocols, cultural/ceremonial rights and the university’s accommodations requirements.

What do I do if a student asks to be absent for ceremonial reasons?

If a student requests to be away for ceremonial reasons and you have questions about the ceremony, you may contact the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff or speak directly with the student about your questions. Ceremonies take place throughout the year, and on varying schedules dependent on the community. In accommodating a student, that student will be responsible for missed work. Alternative arrangements should be made to the best of your ability. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff can often assist in alternate testing locations or in other mediation ways.

Who can I contact if I am interested in having sensitivity training in the classroom?

Through the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, diversity and sensitivity training can be arranged. Aboriginal sensitivity training can be completed in class through lecture, activity, and discussions presented by the The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff. Please send information on the class size, amount of time allotted for the session. If this session is being requested due to problems in the classroom, please give a brief description of the occurrences so they may be addressed. Any other specific information or goals should be included.

Where can I send staff, faculty and students who need information or resources on current or historical Aboriginal or Spiritual information?

Aboriginal Questions

The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff can assist with numerous topics either through personal information, discussion or academic references, Native and non Native staff, faculty and students are welcome to drop in or make an appointment to browse our materials on site or to gather information from other resources.

Spiritual Questions

Spiritual, cultural and ceremonial issues pertaining to the Aboriginal person is as wide ranging as there are groups of Native people. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre staff can assist in making a referral for staff, faculty and students to the Elder in Residence, our Visiting Elder or an Elder from their home community.

What is a Smudging Ceremony?

A Smudging Ceremony is a sacred ceremony that is conducted at the begining of an event to cleanse the area and participants. The conductor of the ceremony will bring around a bowl or shell with one of or a mixture of the Four Sacred Medicines (Tobbacco, Cedar, Sage and Sweetgrass). The medicines are burned and each participant will use the smoke from the burning medicines to cleanse themselves. Most people will start with their head , ears, eyes and then the rest of their body. There is no wrong way to do this ceremony. Not everyone smudges and no one is forced to smudge if they wish not to.

One consideration when smudging is to ensure that you will not accidently set off any fire detection devices. If this is a concern you may want to conduct your ceremony outside or contact Event Services to see if the area you are in is okay to conduct the ceremony in.

As this is a spiritual ceremony, non-smoking bylaws do not stop you from conducting the ceremony.

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