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Sharing Indigenous knowledge

A group of students, faculty, staff and administrators are working to open up greater discussion about Indigenous issues on campus. The Kahswentha Indigenous Knowledge Initiative (KIKI) is a campus group who lead teach-ins, retreats and other events to improve knowledge of Aboriginal peoples. Started in 2013 after a recommendation from the Queen’s Aboriginal Council, KIKI exists to promote awareness about Aboriginal peoples, cultures, worldviews and histories. 

The Kahswentha Indigenous Knowledge Initiative hosts teach-ins, retreats and campus events to improve knowledge of Aboriginal peoples.

“We’re working towards greater inclusion of Indigenous knowledges on campus,” says Jennifer Hardwick (PhD ’14), who is active in KIKI. “We want to foster dialogue that may not happen in the classroom and create opportunities for community building.”

Taking its name and inspiration from the Two-Row Wampum (also called Kahswentha), a 17th-century agreement between Haudenosaunee and Dutch peoples based on peace, friendship and mutual respect, KIKI brings together individuals – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – who are passionate about issues surrounding Indigenous knowledge.

Busy since its inception, the group has hosted a number of teach-ins on subjects such as language, education and history. Their next event – a retreat called “Belonging to the Land” – will focus on sustainable land utilization. Hosted at the Elbow Lake Conservation Centre Oct. 25-26, the retreat will have a number of workshops and panels by elders, knowledge keepers, academics and community members covering food sovereignty, the re-indigenization of agriculture, Indigenous-settler solidarity and other related subjects.

“This retreat is open to all people who are interested and want to learn more about issues regarding respectful land usage,” says Gillian MacDonald (Artsci'16), one of the retreat’s organizers. “We’re excited about the quality of the events we have planned and the calibre of those presenting.”

KIKI partners with Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC) for much of their programming and share resources to plan events. For Janice Hill, Director, FDASC, the need for KIKI is clear.

“It’s hard for people to work together if they don’t understand one another and there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding Aboriginal peoples,” she says. “To see beyond, to our truth, we need to share our stories. Increasing education and awareness makes it possible for us to work together in a more equitable way.”

More information about KIKI and the Belonging to Land Retreat can be found on the group’s Facebook page.