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Elders host virtual knowledge-sharing sessions

In response to pandemic, campus community heads online to explore Indigenous ways of knowing.

Drum (by Bernard Clark)
Sessions are led by Elder-in-residence Wendy Phillips and Cultural Advisor Allen Doxtator. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Over 100 members of the campus community joined Queen’s Elders-in-residence for the first of a series of Online Indigenous Ways of Knowing Sessions. Organized by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the virtual meetings continue efforts to further integrate Indigenous knowledge into the work being done across the university. The first in the series served as an opportunity for participants to meet the Elders and share topics of interest for future sessions.

“These sessions can be a wonderful way for us to create cultural awareness and build relationships, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Wendy Phillips, Elder in Residence with Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives. “Among many Indigenous communities there is often skepticism about technology’s role in traditional knowledge-sharing, as the more spiritual aspects can feel excluded without physical presence of a group. That said, the interest in our first remote meeting was so strong, I’m encouraged that we will reach many more people with these important conversations.”

Phillips co-facilitated the session alongside Cultural Advisor Allen Doxtator. Together they outlined the office’s work and sought input from attendees about what areas of Indigenous knowledge could best advance the university’s 2017 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force final report recommendations.

Participants expressed keen interest in how Elders and Knowledge Keepers are identified within Indigenous communities and the pathways to taking on these roles and inquired about tips to advance Indigenous inclusion on campus, especially when hiring faculty and staff.

“Though our virtual sessions were created out of necessity for physical distancing, I am very encouraged by the interest in this discussion format,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “Campus community members are driven to learn more about Indigenous ways of knowing and the online space we’ve created provides the safety and accessibility for people to explore these topics with us. For Indigenous allies it is a particularly helpful opportunity to hear new perspectives, network, and deepen understanding.”

The next Online Indigenous Ways of Knowing Session is set for Friday, May 8, 2020, from at 11 am to 12 pm ET. For more information and to register for the discussion, visit Eventbrite and use your Queen’s email to sign up.