Communities offer views on future of Aboriginal education at Queen's
Members from diverse Aboriginal communities and Queen’s representatives came together last week in a vision-gathering session aimed at finding ways to co-create a healthy, effective and representative Aboriginal Council at Queen’s and a university environment that is responsive to the learning needs of all Aboriginal students.
“I was pleased to see students and communities working together as equal partners to help improve Queen’s Aboriginal programs and services,” says Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis, co-chair of the Aboriginal Council.
In his keynote address to participants, Amos Key Jr., Trustee, The Amos Key Jr. E-Learning Institute
from the Six Nations of the Grand River community, noted that Aboriginal education councils are natural strategic partners and leaders and more importantly they represent the community and stakeholders. He suggested that since they already exist empowering them with more capacity, confidence and profile could help them become more effective and affective.
Circle processes and open space discussions focused discussion on activities, behaviours, processes and structures that will support and foster the four directions of Aboriginal learning: mental, spiritual, emotional and physical.
“Education and community cultural support is the key to success for all Aboriginal peoples,” says Robert Rittwage, President of the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre. “Community input, interaction and participation throughout the process is essential in developing a balanced holistic vision. I look forward to listening and actively sharing my thoughts in the future.”
The broad range of ideas discussed included reinstating the elders at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, establishing a separate Aboriginal graduating ceremony in addition to regular convocation, and developing a web portal for Aboriginal students at Queen’s.
“I am hoping this is a great start and the ideas that were shared will come to be. I am looking forward to seeing great improvements at Queen’s for our Aboriginal students,” says Elder David Jock.
An illustrated map showing the path toward a desired future where the university environment sustains and attracts members of Aboriginal communities was one of the session’s guiding tools.
The input from the day-long session will be compiled into a report and future meetings and dialogues will take place as the process continues.