Monday, August 14, 2017

Renison to offer Waterloo's first Indigenous language course

This fall, Renison University College is offering the University of Waterloo’s first Indigenous language course, Introduction to Kanien’kéha (Mohawk Language). Offered through Renison’s Culture and Language Studies department, in collaboration with the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) at St. Paul’s University College, ARTS 190 is intended for University of Waterloo students in any Faculty or discipline with minimal to no knowledge of Kanien’kéha.

Renison has long been a provider of language education, including degree-level East Asian languages since the 1980s and, more recently, Arabic. The college is well-positioned to add the Mohawk language to its course offerings, according to Kofi Campbell, academic dean of Renison.

“From its origins, Renison has sought to be a bridge between cultures and peoples, often through language instruction,” he said. “It is our hope that Renison can again serve as that bridge, but perhaps, this time, between peoples closer to home and at a time of great significance. We see this course as one step towards meeting our important obligations under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action Number 16 highlighted the need for post-secondary institutions to offer degree and diploma courses in Indigenous languages.

“A result of colonization and government policies of assimilation has been the disruption of the natural transference of Indigenous languages from parents to children,” said Lori Campbell, director of WAEC. “Post-secondary institutions play a key role in knowledge transference and offering an Indigenous language course through Renison is a good way to work towards supporting Call to Action Number 16.”

Given the current number of Kanien’kéha speakers, this course is coming at an important time. According to the course instructor, Nicole Bilodeau, within the community of Six Nations of the Grand River there is only one first-language speaker of Kanien’kéha, an extremely limited number of second-language speakers that have achieved a fluency level close to first-language speech, and approximately 20 second-language speakers who have a functional conversational vocabulary.

“Technically it is a very complex language,” said Bilodeau. “It would be on the same scale as trying to learn Arabic or Japanese. It is just so different from Indo-European languages that learning Kanien’kéha requires a totally different approach. The language is so well-constructed that it almost feels mathematical, but it’s also very beautiful and intuitive once you’re able to open your mind to how the language actually functions.”

Bilodeau is hopeful that this course could be the beginning of new conversations and understandings for students.

“I think teaching Kanien’kéha will help non-Indigenous people understand a little bit about who Indigenous people are and what our priorities are. I hope it sparks interest in people, Indigenous or not, to learn more about our collective history,” she said.

New WatCard design unveiled

The redesigned WatCard.

A message from the WatCard office.

The WatCard office introduced the WatCard's new look on August 8. The card features a brand new look and new technology.

"The introduction of contactless, smartchip technology will allow us to transition from the older, magnetic stripe that has been used on the card since its introduction in 1993," says a statement from the WatCard office. "The magnetic stripe isn’t going away immediately as magnetic stripe equipment is still in widespread use across campus. As new equipment comes online, and as older equipment is upgraded and replaced, the contactless technology will be in place across campus."

The first oncampus areas to make use the new technology include the new residence building, including the new Food Services outlet and all new uPrint multifunction devices.

Starting in the Fall term, the chip will also be used with the Grand River Transit’s (GRT) new electronic fare system to authenticate UPASS riders on GRT buses. There are a number of changes to the visual aspects of the card. The new cards incorporate an embedded foil design, making the cards harder to counterfeit. The library barcode has been moved to the back of the card, and the cardholder's signature will now be digitally captured and printed on the card.

Student Cards ‐ The Warrior helmet has been added to the Student Card as a watermark. For 2017, there will be a limited edition card, featuring the 60th anniversary logo. All new students will receive the new WatCard during the orientation period. All other students will transition to the new cards during the Fall semester. Current cards will remain active until the new card is issued.

The new staff WatCard design, showing the vertical orientation.Staff Cards ‐ The WatCard office is also releasing new, vertical design cards for staff and faculty. This card functions just like the current WatCard and can be used at the Library, for purchases at Food Services and Retail Services as well as at offcampus WatCard vendor locations. The vertical design also helps to meet the demands from many departments for a staff ID badge. Current staff WatCards will continue to function, until a new card is issued.

Questions can be directed to the WatCard office at or by calling 5198884567 x32751.

Monday's notes

The UW Police Service is inviting members of the University community to the retirement reception for Sgt. Peter Speek after 26 years of dedicated service with the University of Waterloo Police Service. The reception will take place at Federation Hall on Tuesday, August 22, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. RSVP to Director Alan Binns at or at extension 32828.

As construction of the SLC/PAC expansion continues, there are some temporary changes to some access points in the Student Life Centre:

  • The three remaining doors that exit onto the courtyard will become "emergency exit" only to permit the installation of the new temporary doorway near Campus Bubble (the exit at Subway is already emergency-only) and
  • The pathway from the SLC to QNC near the Bomber patio will be closed (this closes the entrance to people seeking to gain access to the SLC)

Currently the only open entrances to the Student Life Centre are at the Ring Road, the Turnkey Desk, the Brubaker's entrances, and the lower level entrance at the Bike Centre.

Campus Bubble and Subway are closed until September. In addition, the Fall term UW Farm Market has been discontinued due to the ongoing construction.

Access to the ramp to the second floor will be available at all times during the installation of the new relocated entrance.

Anyone with questions is invited to contact SLC Operations Manager Scott Pearson at or at extension 37308.

The Registrar's Office has informed undergraduate students that unofficial term grades are available on Quest beginning today.

Official grades and academic standings will be available beginning September 22.

Link of the day

70 years ago: Pakistan achieves independence

When and where

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, Friday, August 11 to Friday, August 18.

Ontario Mennonite Music CampSunday, August 13 to Friday, August 25, Conrad Grebel University College. 

UWRC Book Club presents The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, Wednesday, August 16, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

NEW - IQC special seminar, "Chris Ferrie: Quantum Physics for Babies," Friday, August 18, 1:00 p.m., Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, Room 1502. Free registration.

Partial Solar Eclipse Viewing, Monday August 21, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Village 1 Green. Registration required to get eclipse glasses.

NEW - Retirement reception for Sgt. Peter Speek, Tuesday, August 22, 4:00 p.m., Federation Hall. RSVP to Alan Binns at

Deadline for students to get “Fees Arranged,” Wednesday, August 23.

10th Annual St. Paul's Golf Tournament, Friday, August 25, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Glen Eagle Golf Club.

PhD seminar, “Projection free rank-drop steps,” Edward Cheung, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Thursday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., DC 2310.

Fall Orientation, Sunday, September 3 to Saturday, September 9.

Fall Move-in begins, Sunday, September 3.

Labour Day, most University services and buildings closed, Monday, September 4.

Co-operative work term begins, Tuesday, September 5.

LGBTQ+ Making Spaces workshop, Tuesday, September 5, 12:30 p.m., NH 3318. Please register- Seating is limited.

WaterTalk: Data instead of concrete? Exploring the potential of digitalization in urban drainage, featuring Professor Max Maurer, Tuesday, September 5, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Lectures begin, Thursday, September 7.

Feds Welcome Week, Monday, September 11 to Friday, September 15.

President and Senior Staff Luncheon, Monday, September 11, 12:00 p.m., Davis Centre Quad.

The Water Institute RBC Distinguished Lecture 2017 featuring Quentin Grafton, “Innovation, Incentives and Infrastructure in the Blue Economy,” Monday, September 11, 3:40 p.m., Crowne Plaza Grand Ballroom, Kitchener.

NEW - Waterloo Innovation Summit - Hacking the Future, Thursday, September 14 and Friday, September 15.

Deadline to submit nominations for the President's Community Impact Awards, Friday, September 15.

WaterTalk: Emerging Outcomes From a Cross-Disciplinary Doctoral Programme on Water Resource Systems, Friday, September 15, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

PhD oral defences

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Ehsan Bagheri, "Enhanced Travel Signal Operation using Connected Vehicle Data." Supervisor, Bruce Hellinga. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, August 15, 9:00 a.m., E2 3324.

School of Public Health and Health Systems. Christine Czoli, "Patterns of Use and Biomarkers of Exposure among "Dual" Tobacco Cigarette and Electronic Cigarette Users in Canada." Supervisor, David Hammond. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, August 15, 10:00 a.m., BMH 3119.

School of Public Health and Health Systems. Rachel Laxer, "Predicting Overweight and Obesity among Youth in Ontario, Canada: Evidence from Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses." Supervisor, Scott Leatherdale. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, August 15, 11:00 a.m., BMH 3119.

Recreation & Leisure Studies. Mingjie Gao, "Exploring the Influence of Family Holidays on Chinese Adolescents' Subjective Wellbeing." Supervisors, Mark Havitz, Luke Potwarka. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, August 15, 1:30 p.m., AHS 1686.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Blake Martin, "Continuum Modelling and Vibration Analysis of String-Harnessed Structures." Supervisor, Armaghan Salehian. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Wednesday, August 16, 1:30 p.m., E5 2007.