Reflecting and reconciling
June 21, 2018
Grant Hall was all decked out in black, red, yellow, and white – the colours of the medicine wheel – for the annual Staff Barbecue, which this year coincided with National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Hundreds of staff and faculty packed the hall to celebrate and look back on the year past and enjoy burgers, eggplant parmesan, coleslaw, pasta salad, cookies, brownies, and other barbecue favourites.
There were several tributes to Indigenous Peoples throughout the lunch, including a special art project. Indigenous students and employees who are members of the Kahswentha Indigenous Knowledge Initiative (KIKI) brought in a ‘reconciliation tree’ which employees could contribute to.
Inspired by a similar Ontario government initiative, the tree is designed to encourage both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to share their hopes for reconciliation. Attendees at the barbecue were asked to complete the sentence, “My hope for reconciliation is…”, write their answer on a leaf, and add it to the tree.
Along with the décor in Grant Hall, the cake featured an Indigenous-inspired design. It included three symbols: a feather, which is considered sacred within First Nations culture; an infinity symbol, which represents the dual identity of Métis people as both European and First Nations; and an Inukshuk, which is an important symbol in Inuit culture.
In addition to being an opportunity for staff and faculty to catch up and look ahead to the summer, the annual Staff Barbecue also serves as an opportunity to gather non-perishable food items for the Alma Mater Society (AMS) Food Bank.
After the event, Hospitality Services assisted the Principal’s Office in donating all of the themed balloon bouquets and leftover unused slab cakes to the City of Kingston’s National Indigenous People’s Day event, which was still continuing for a couple of more hours at Confederation Park.
National Indigenous Peoples Day was established by the Canadian federal government to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. To learn more, visit the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website.