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Exploring Indigenous identities

The Queen’s Native Student Association (QNSA) is organizing a week of events aimed at raising awareness of reconciliation and Indigenous matters.

Queen's Native Students' Association member Helena Kita (Artsci'19) and Co-President Sarah Hanson (Artsci'17) help take down the thoughts of the Queen's community as part of Indigenous Awareness Week. (University Communications)
Queen's Native Student Association member Helena Kita (Artsci'19) and Co-President Sarah Hanson (Artsci'19) help take down the thoughts of the Queen's community as part of Indigenous Awareness Week. (University Communications)

Through song, stories, food, and art, organizers of Indigenous Awareness Week hope to spend the next few days exploring what it means to have Indigenous identity.

“Whether you are an Indigenous person, a well-established ally, or beginning your journey towards ally-ship and educating yourself on Indigenous histories, cultures, and current issues, you are invited to join us this week,” says Queen’s Native Student Association (QNSA) Co-President Sarah Hanson (Artsci’19). “Our goal is to engage all members of our community in a discussion around Indigeneity and reconciliation, and further their knowledge of issues affecting Indigenous Peoples today.”

There are several activities planned throughout the week, with events scheduled for each day. This year, organizers have aligned Indigenous Awareness Week with the QNSA’s annual conference – blending the learning and social aspects of the two events.

On Monday, members of the Queen’s community can participate in a whiteboard session from 10 am to 3 pm in the Athletics and Recreation Complex (ARC). Organizers hope to use the time to gather thoughts on what reconciliation means to them, and share it on a canvas forever featured by QNSA.

Monday night will include a poetry slam featuring community poet Bob Mackenzie as well as Queen’s student poets in the Grad Club.

On Tuesday, organizers will lead a mass KAIROS exercise from noon to 2 pm. in the McLaughlin Room of the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC). This exercise is a teaching tool used to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Later that evening, organizers will show Angry Inuk, a documentary about a new generation of Inuit as they participate in the traditional seal hunt. The film will be followed by a discussion lead by Professor Noel McDermott (PhD’15).

Those looking to broaden their palates should stop in to Wednesday’s bannock and tea sale from 9 am until noon at the intersection of Union and University.

A student contributes to the Indigenous Awareness Week whiteboard. (University Communications)
A student contributes to the Indigenous Awareness Week whiteboard. (University Communications)

Thursday will see a number of Indigenous vendors visiting campus to sell their artwork and other creations between 10 am and 2 pm in the JDUC. Some of the items that will be for sale include beautiful traditional items such as dreamcatchers and earrings. Later in the day, QNSA will host a Kehewin Cree Hoop Dance workshop.

Thursday evening, two acclaimed Indigenous models will visit the Queen’s campus to share their stories and experiences at a ticketed event. Miss Universe Canada Siera Bearchell and International Model and former cover of Vogue Ellyn Jade will join the Queen’s community for a wine and cheese event at the Agnes. The event is being co-hosted by the QNSA and the Vogue Charity Fashion Show.

Friday culminates in a town hall event featuring Clement Chartier, President of the Métis National Council. Mr. Chartier will deliver remarks from 12:15 to 1:15 pm in Goodes Hall, and a reception will follow at the Agnes from 1:30 to 3 pm.

Sixty volunteers are coming together to help make Indigenous Awareness Week a reality, and the QNSA has received support from a number of groups on campus including the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, the Grad Club, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Relations.

“We are so excited that Indigenous Awareness Week includes participation from students, staff and faculty from all parts of our university,” says Darian Doblej, (ArtsSci ’18). “Working towards reconciliation requires all of us, non-Indigenous and Indigenous people working together in order to create better futures. When everyone here comes out to events, I know we can be confident in just that – creating better futures.”

Queen's community members filled in their thoughts responding to the question, "What does the term Indigenous mean to you?" (Supplied Photo)
Queen's community members filled in their thoughts responding to the question, "What does the term Indigenous mean to you?" (Supplied Photo)

To stay up to date on Indigenous Awareness Week at Queen’s, please visit the Queen’s Native Student Association’s Facebook page.