Food, connections and culture filled the grounds at Northern College this week.
It was Indigenous Cultural Awareness Week on the Timmins Campus and students were treated to traditional foods, activities, and experiences.
“This is our way of life and we are happy to share it with others to foster a better understanding of who we are as Indigenous people and to bring everyone together in a positive way,” said Northern College’s manager of Indigenous services and initiatives Christina Kioke.
Many international students took part in activities like soapstone carving, and Kioke said canoeing was particularly exciting for many of them.
“It was great to see the international students get involved and wanting to try new things,” she said. “The canoeing activity was a first for many, and one international student said she would love to do it again.”
While giving students new to the area a glimpse of what Indigenous culture is and the history of the people in Treaty 9, the events offer something even more valuable to Indigenous students.
“A week like this provides our Indigenous students with a familiar environment where they can enjoy the things they do at home in their communities,” said Kioke. “We want them to feel welcomed.”
Hot breakfasts and lunches were available for students and staff in the shaputuan — sharing tent — offering everyone a gathering spot while they enjoyed bannock, blueberries, eggs, and moose or goose stew.
“It was all delicious,” said Kioke. “The food created a welcoming space to connect and share one’s culture.”
She said that the staff and students at Northern College should be aware of the land they’re on.
“We are situated on Treaty 9 territory, and its important for everyone at the college to learn about and understand our Indigenous culture,” she said. “We are welcoming people and we want to share our culture with others. We want others to appreciate and value who we are and the land on which we are situated.”
Kioke emphasized the importance of gathering and understanding each other.
“Indigenous Cultural Awareness week allows our students, staff, and community to come together to share and honour the rich contributions of the Indigenous culture,” she said.
Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com