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Indigenous History Month at Laurier

A message to the Laurier community from Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor and Darren Thomas, Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Initiatives.

Celebrating the Indigenous Community at Laurier

Wilfrid Laurier University is proud to foster a community that embraces Indigenous initiatives as part of our institutional identity. Throughout Indigenous History Month and the rest of the year, we invite you to learn about incredible Indigenous students, thoughtful researchers and supportive staff members. Laurier has been working toward the goal of Indigenization, a term that reflects the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into the daily life of the university.

National Indigenous History Month, held in June, is an opportunity for the Laurier community to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.

You can support Laurier’s commitment to building capacity in Indigenous education on all of its campuses under the leadership of Indigenous students, faculty and staff, by making a donation in support of Indigenous Initiatives today.

Laurier’s Land Acknowledgement

Wilfrid Laurier University and its campuses are located on the shared traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples and symbolizes the agreement to share, protect our resources and not to engage in conflict.

From the Haldimand Proclamation of Oct. 25, 1784, this territory is described as “six miles deep from each side of the river (Grand River) beginning at Lake Erie and extending in the proportion to the Head of said river, which them and their posterity are to enjoy forever.”

The proclamation was signed by the British with their allies, the Six Nations, after the American Revolution. Despite being the largest reserve demographically in Canada, those nations now reside on less than five per cent of this original territory.

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. It is a day to celebrate the heritage, culture and contributions of Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. National Indigenous Peoples Day falls on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and was chosen for its important symbolism to many Indigenous peoples.

Office of Indigenous Initiatives

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) at Laurier has recently enhanced its team to create a better distinction between their work to Indigenize the university and work to support Indigenous student success.

The OII is responsible for leading Indigenization at Laurier, a priority in the Laurier Strategy 2019-2024 that involves fully integrating Indigenous knowledges and practices at the university. The OII also provides oversight to Indigenous Student Services, whose mandate is to build a positive student experience for Indigenous students, provide community for students and support them in culturally appropriate ways during their time at Laurier.

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Meet the team leading Indigenization at Laurier

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Read Laurier's Indigenous Strategic Plan

Indigenous Strategic Plan

As a result of extensive consultations with Indigenous Elders, community members, faculty, staff, and students, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives developed a university-wide Indigenization strategy that has been a core initiative of Laurier’s Action Plan for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) and Indigeneity.

The Indigenous Strategic Plan was unanimously approved by the university Senate and Board of Governors in the summer of 2023.

This plan is informed by existing Indigenous scholarship on reconciliation and decolonization in the Canadian academy. It reinforces Laurier’s commitment to Indigenization and fostering a community that honors Indigenous knowledge and practices at Laurier. It also reflects Laurier’s belief that educational institutions have a duty to address the legacy of harm caused by colonial policies and practices.

In addition to a high-level view of Indigenization at Laurier with larger overarching goals, the plan outlines three distinct approaches to Indigenization at the university: inclusion, reconciliation and decolonization.

Indigenous Student at Convocation

Laurier honours Indigenous graduates with celebration at Six Nations

Laurier honoured the achievements of its Indigenous graduates alongside their families and friends during a graduation celebration at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

In addition to holding a graduation celebration for Indigenous graduates, Laurier is working to incorporate Indigenous elements into its wider convocation ceremonies in Waterloo and Brantford.

Take a Peek into the Updated Indigenous Student Centres

The Indigenous Student Centres on the Brantford and Waterloo campuses have both undergone renovations for much-needed enhancements. And there’s more to come! Additional upgrades will continue over the next few years.

Indigenous Student Centre Brantford

Onkwehonwè:ne Brantford Campus

In Brantford, the generous support of the Grundy Family helped renovate Onkwehonwè:ne Brantford Campus. This enhanced Indigenous Student Centre creates a larger supportive and nurturing space for Laurier’s growing Indigenous student community, allows for much-needed staff and programming expansion, and increases vital access to academic programs and assistance with career development to further enhance employment options for Indigenous students.

Indigenous Student Centre Waterloo

Nadjiwan Kaandossiwin Gamik – Beautiful Place of Learning

Thanks to generous philanthropic investment, Lucinda House was renovated into an enhanced Indigenous Student Centre on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. This beautiful space provides a place where Laurier’s Indigenous student community can participate in ceremony and activities; where Laurier can demonstrate its commitment to Indigenous culture and learning, and to Indigenous students’ success; and where Indigenous students can find a “home away from home” on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

Laurier offers gratitude to the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Students’ Union, the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association, Ken Flood and the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association for their significant gifts in support of this project.

Continuning Indigenous Education at Laurier

Continuing Indigenous Education at Laurier

Through Laurier Continuing Education, community members can learn about Indigenous history, knowledge and practices, and how systems in Canada have impacted Indigenous communities. Explore courses and certificates offered through the Centre for Indigegogy, Faculty of Social Work Professional Development, and the Centre for Public Safety and Well-Being.

Staff and Faculty Community

Laurier is working toward the goal of Indigenization, a term that reflects the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into the daily life of the university. Indigenization at Laurier fosters enriching and supportive partnerships, an inclusive community and integrated Indigenous knowledge across the university.

Explore stories celebrating Indigenous staff and faculty members at Laurier who are inspiring others with their leadership.

Living the Language

Kawennakon Bonnie Whitlow, Indigenous special projects officer at Laurier, speaks of her journey to learn the Mohawk language and the way it informs her teaching methods in the Voices from the Land podcast presented by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which is an Indigenous-led organization that has been working to promote healing and reconciliation in Canada for over 22 years.

“The reason that I fell so in love with learning the language is that it absolutely rooted out colonial thought and gave me the worldview of my ancestors by learning how they said something.”

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Meet Margaret Neveau: Indigenous counsellor uses traditional knowledge for healing at Laurier

While serving as the Indigenous student coordinator at Laurier’s Brantford campus, Margaret Neveau was revered for her extensive traditional knowledge. Now she is sharing that knowledge beyond Brantford in her new role as a multi-campus counsellor for Indigenous students.

Spotlight on Research

Discover the work of some of Laurier’s Indigenous researchers and emerging new Indigenous research methodologies at Laurier and beyond.

Laurier experts are available to discuss topics related to National Indigenous History Month, including Indigenous-settler relations, environmental stewardship, and missing and murdered women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.

Award-winning book by Laurier researcher documents destructive legacy of uranium mining in her First Nation

Lianne C. Leddy, an associate professor of History at Laurier, documented a legacy of colonialism and community resistance in her book Serpent River Resurgence: Confronting Uranium Mining at Elliot Lake. She was recently honoured with three awards from the Canadian Historical Association.

Researchers in the North

Laurier researchers partner with NWT Indigenous Guardians to provide real-time monitoring of lake ice for safe travel

Homa Kheyrollah Pour, assistant professor of Geography at Laurier and Canada Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Environmental Change, studies the responses of cold region water systems to climate change using mathematical modelling and cutting-edge technology. She is partnering with environmental stewards of Thaidene Nëné to install sensors on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

Get to know Keri Cheechoo, Laurier’s Grundy Indigenous Scholar

Meet Keri Cheechoo, assistant professor of Indigenous Studies at Laurier. Cheechoo is Laurier’s first Grundy Indigenous Scholar, a position that aims to further Indigeneity at Laurier, attract and retain top Indigenous scholars, share knowledge, and foster relationships with the wider Indigenous community.

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Norma Jacobs

Elder-in-Residence’s new book explores the ‘sacred space’ of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples

When Norma Jacobs (Cayuga name: Gae Ho Hwako) served as Elder-In-Residence at Laurier’s Brantford campus, much of her focus was on supporting Indigenous students seeking to reconnect with their Indigenous identities.

Her book, Ǫ da gaho dḛ:s: Reflecting on Our Journeys was born out of her experiences co-teaching Laurier courses and leading conversation circles. The book, released during the summer and edited by Leduc, contains Haudenosaunee cultural teachings by Jacobs – a knowledge-holder of Haudenosaunee cultural ways, practices and languages – and is structured to mirror a conversation circle.

The Power of Narratives

Ann Marie Beals, an assistant professor in Community Psychology at Laurier, speaks with Laurier Alumni about their work to bring Indigenous-Black voices to the fore. Watch Beals' Inspiring Conversation lecture where they shared more about Afro-Indigenous Peoples' historical and contemporary existance in Canada. 

Alumni Community

Laurier alumni are working to build inclusive, thriving communities. Explore stories of Indigenous alumni who are using their Laurier experiences to make an impact wherever they go.

Jade Psutka (BA '12) talks about her career jouney after graduation

In this episode of the Staying Golden Podcast, we welcome Jade Psutka (BA '12), member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames from the Turtle Clan. After studying Criminology at Laurier, Psutka found herself on a journey which led to her role as the senior manager of Indigenous enablement and recruitment at KPMG in Canada. In this episode, we talk about her career journey, as well as what reclaiming means to her.

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New art at Laurier from alumna Alanah Jewell (BA '19)

Last month Laurier celebrated the official launch of a new Community Hub, affiliated with the Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action and Laurier’s Community Psychology Program, at 232 King St. N. in Waterloo. This collaborative space for community-based research is home to an art installation titled ‘Turtle Island Creation Story’ by Laurier alumna Alanah Jewell (BA ’19). Jewell is Bear Clan from Oneida Nation of the Thames, and is an illustrator, painter and muralist and organizes local Indigenous Art Markets through @IamKitchener on Instagram.

The Impact of the Indigenous Knowledge Fund

Laurier’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives is building a pool of Indigenous knowledge holders and resources to continue encouraging the expansion of Indigenous thought and philosophy into and across the entire institution. We have also established a multi-campus Student Emergency Fund for Indigenous students. This fund supports Indigenous learners at Laurier who find themselves facing unforeseen financial crises.

Please consider supporting the Indigenous Knowledge Fund or making a gift to the multi-campus Indigenous Student Emergency Fund. Your gift will continue to help support Indigeneity across the university, and eliminate barriers for Indigenous learners on our campuses.