Nov. 20, 2018
For Immediate Release
Waterloo – Wilfrid Laurier University is set to transform Lucinda House into the new Nadjiwan Kaandossiwin Gamik Indigenous Centre.
The renewal, fuelled by $700,000 in funding from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, Wilfrid Laurier University, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, and the Graduate Students’ Association, will support the redevelopment of the two-floor, 2,200 square foot heritage home on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. The enhanced space is part of Laurier’s efforts to eliminate barriers for Indigenous learners and create an environment where indigeneity is part of the core experience of all students, faculty and staff.
Funding will support a 12-month renovation, which will configure the main floor for effective delivery of student services, larger public programming, and greater accessibility to the building. The Indigenous centre, which is currently in a much smaller, restricted space, will move to its new prominent location at Bricker and Albert streets, giving it a stronger presence on campus.
“When we visited the current Indigenous Student Centre, we were struck by the deep connection the students feel to the physical space. It provides a true home base and sense of community, despite its shortcomings,” said Laura Manning, executive director for the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. “The new Nadjiwan Kaandossiwin Gamik — Beautiful Place of Learning — will mean more access and more connections, in a space that supports pride and dignity.”
The enhanced Indigenous centre is critical to Laurier’s mission to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action by closing the gap in education for Indigenous people. For Indigenous students facing societal and community barriers to higher education, removal of these obstacles is key to their success in school and in life beyond their studies.
“Expanding our space is critical to strengthening resources, giving us greater visibility and providing better service delivery that will help our Indigenous students to be more successful in university,” said Jean Becker, senior advisor, Indigenous initiatives. “We want to create a place where students feel like they belong and can find support, safety and respite from the challenges of an unfamiliar environment. Many of our students are first-generation students, coming from northern communities or reserves where no one from their family or community has attended university. We help them to navigate the system and provide important support in an unfamiliar environment. We always use the term home away from home.”
Jean Becker is the guest editor of a special edition of Laurier Campus magazine celebrating Indigenous Initiatives at the university. The edition features stories about academic programs, Indigenous student services and community. Read the edition online at campusmagazine.wlu.ca.
The new Indigenous Student Centre will also be open to non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff from all areas of the university to give greater exposure to Indigenous people and resources and to build capacity in Indigenous education and programming. Leveraging the heritage home and accompanying land will create a stronger environment to serve and support the Indigenous community of Laurier’s Waterloo campus for years to come.
Lucinda House was built in 1838 and donated to the university in 1994. Over the years, the house has been used for special events and as a temporary residence for university guests.
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