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Twenty students form inaugural Indigenous & Allies living learning community

Twenty Queen's University students will receive a unique education in the cultures and customs of Canada’s Indigenous peoples this academic year.

As part of a pilot initiative, half of the fourth floor of Chown Hall has become the Bimaadiziwin Ka'nikonhriyo Indigenous & Allies Living Learning Community – Bimaadiziwin meaning “The Good Life” in Ojibway, and Ka’nikonhriyo meaning “The Good Mind” in Mohawk. Residence Life and the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre have been working together for two years to bring this initiative to life.

"Chown Hall"
As part of a pilot initiative, half of the fourth floor of Chown Hall has become the Bimaadiziwin Ka'nikonhriyo Indigenous & Allies Living Learning Community. (University Communications)

“The Bimaadiziwin Ka'nikonhriyo Indigenous & Allies community represents an effort to develop more intentional programming for first-year students,” says Vanessa McCourt (Artsci'02), Aboriginal Advisor with Four Directions. “Queen’s University is educating future leaders, and students need to know about our country’s history and the culture of its original inhabitants.”

This new community will share the fourth floor with the Eco-Friendly Living Learning Community. Living Learning Communities are floors or clusters of rooms where students with similar interests and values live together. This allows students to share goals, projects, and challenges, meet like-minded fellow students, and benefit from peer- and professionally-led support, created with the students’ interests and development in mind.

“Living Learning Communities at Queen’s fit into the University’s Strategic Framework and the goals of the Division of Student Affairs by offering students co-curricular opportunities to engage in experiential learning and leadership skill development to aid in their transition into university,” says Molly Raffan (Ed'09), ‎Residence Life Manager (Education). “By living together, these students are able to build meaningful relationships with like-minded peers through events that promote learning outside of the classroom facilitated by their Don. Our hope is that this community will provide a safe, supportive space for open conversation where all participants can explore their cultural backgrounds – whether Indigenous, European, or wherever they may come from.”

The students who will be joining this community indicated their interest in joining the Bimaadiziwin Ka'nikonhriyo Indigenous & Allies Living Learning Community as part of their residence application. All students who selected this Living Learning Community as their first choice, and many who selected it as their second choice, were accepted. The students represent a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queen’s students.

Kaitlyn Gillelan (Artsci’18) is the first Residence Don for this community. There was a special application process for the position, and Ms. Gillelan was selected in part because of her past engagement with Four Directions and her work related to culture and tradition on campus. For her part, Ms. Gillelan says she is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Four Directions and help build a sense of community among the students. Her plans for the community include door decorations themed around Canadian art, and participating in events that are happening at Four Directions.

To learn more about Living Learning Communities, visit the Residence website.