Indigenous History Month

A collage of photography that celebrates Indigenization at the University of Waterloo

A message from Jean Becker (Inuk), Associate Vice President, Office of Indigenous Relations

Jean Becker

June is National Indigenous History Month, and on June 21 we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, also known to some as the summer solstice.   

We cannot talk about National Indigenous History Month, nor can we celebrate First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples without acknowledging the historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism in this country. The work of decolonization and reconciliation is a responsibility we all share. May this month serve as a reminder to us all that relationship building, truth telling and (re)indigenizing is a priority that the University has committed to and that I invite you to commit to on a personal level as well.   

I continue to be grateful for the University of Waterloo’s dedication to fostering enduring, respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Last year we launched the University of Waterloo Indigenous Strategic Plan 2023-2028, which charts a course towards indigenizing and decolonizing the institution. Aligned with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this plan outlines steps for the University’s transformation. This plan is for all of us to utilize as a guidepost in our respective fields of study and work.   

Throughout June, we have an array of engaging events planned to honor National Indigenous History Month, including an exciting concert of Indigenous music and collaboration happening on June 17 at Federation Hall. This event is first and foremost for First Nations, Inuit and Métis folks here in this community to come enjoy an evening of connection, community and celebrating the beauty of our cultures and heritage. We are pleased to share and host several events this month, and highlight some incredible stories of indigenization on campus.  

Our mission as always for June and beyond is to progress from rhetoric to meaningful, tangible actions on our collective journey towards reconciliation and decolonization. 

Indigenization at Waterloo

The sun setting over a small lake

Vanier scholar tackles pollution-related health challenges faced by First Nations

Amy Nahwegahbow, who is pursuing an Epidemiology and Biostatistics PhD in the School of Public Health Sciences, studies contaminants left behind by industrial pollution in northern Canadian communities

United college campus

Indigenous entrepreneurship: Enriching communities

United College celebrates one-year anniversary of Indigenous entrepreneurship program that has awarded $20,000 in funding to support three ventures

Red dresses hanging on the walls of the AHS building

Calling for action on National Day for Awareness of MMIWG2S

Humanizing the staggering statistics of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people in Canada

Robin Jones

Finding Indigenous community

Robin Jones-Stadelbauer (BA ’12, BA ’22) shares how her experience as an Indigenous student inspires her current leadership role in Waterloo’s Office of Indigenous Relations

Architectural rendering of the new Indigenous gathering space

Breaking ground on the road to reconciliation

This fall, students, faculty and staff at the main campus of the University of Waterloo will have a new outdoor space for teaching, celebrating and bringing awareness about Indigenous peoples and cultural practices. 

The University of Waterloo campus during the winter

A ripple becomes a wave: Inspiring water activism

International Indigenous Rights and Water activist Autumn Peltier visits the University of Waterloo to inspire a new generation on World Water Day

A river stream through a mountainscape

Research gaps in links between Indigenous health and climate change

Recognizing that Indigenous Peoples’ pathways to wellness are through relationality, responsibility and kinship with the land, a team of University of Waterloo researchers set out to examine the extent, range and nature of literature on the subject. 

People wearing orange shirts holding hands in a dance circle

Truth and reconciliation starts with listening

Retired professor George Raithby is helping First Nations, Inuit and Métis students achieve their educational goals

Chelsea Vowel onstage during her speaker session

Reimagining our history with Indigenous futurisms

Indigenous Speakers Series invites Chelsea Vowel to share Indigenous perspectives on how to reflect on the past to create better futures

Savannah Sloat

Creating spaces for belonging

The Faculty of Science is embedding Indigenous knowledges and spaces into science scholarship

Waterloo Warriors hockey team with Saugeen Fist Nations youth

Reconciliation and cross-culture relationship building through hockey

High performance hockey camp builds relationships and cultural connections with Saugeen First Nations youth and Waterloo Warriors 

Upcoming events

WISC Soup and Bannock Day

June 6 & 20| 12:00 - 2:00 PM

Join WISC for their infamous Soup & Bannock lunch from 12-2pm. The lunch makes for lots of friendship, good times, informal learning and sharing, and immeasurable community-building!

What is Smudging?

June 10 | 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Join Kevin George, Associate Director, Indigenous Initiatives, Library for an informative talk about smudging. This online presentation will provide learning about the spirit, meaning and need for a smudge-friendly campus.

Register here

The Decolonial “R’s” of Research: Principled Approaches to Engaging Indigenous Communities

June 11 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

This presentation by the Indigenous Research Team will cover highlights of deceptively simple concepts theorized by Indigenous scholars for community-engaged research projects—known as the “Decolonial “R’s” of Research”—and together, we will consider their expansive meanings and implications in a typical university-based research project lifecycle. 

Register today

Indigenous Community Concert | Sultans of String "Walking Through the Fire"

June 17 | 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Office of Indigenous Relations is excited to host an Indigenous Community Concert featuring the Waking Through the Fire. Registration is free and open to the Indigenous campus community of UWaterloo and to all Indigenous community members of the Waterloo Region. We also welcome the broader UWaterloo campus community and beyond.

Register here

Haudenosaunee Guided Imagery Meditation with Knowledge Keeper Rodney Miller from Six Nations of the Grand River

June 20 | 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

As part of National Indigenous History Month activities, Knowledge Keeper Rodney Miller, Cayuga Nation, from Six Nations of the Grand River, will facilitate a guided meditation session.  Rodney will use Haudenosaunee perspective to walk participants through a meditation session using guided imagery.  Rod will share about guided imagery and how he has come to use and develop this tool for well-being. 

Feel free to bring your own lunch or try a bowl of corn soup and backed bannock!

Register today

Two Spirit Remembering: Exploring Indigenous Queer History and Epistemologies featuring Jay Havens and Benny Skinner

June 20 | 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Please join us for an exciting, educational discussion between two beloved Two Spirit members of our UWaterloo community: Communication Arts Assistant Professor Jay Havens and Indigenous Research Advisor Benny Skinner.  

This online event is open to all campus community members who identify as Two Spirit or an ally* on campus and will include a dialogue between Benny and Jay about Two Spirit experiences, identities, epistemologies, and histories. 

Register here

Beaders n' Eaters

June 25 | 6:00 - 9:00 PM

For University of Waterloo, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit staff, faculty, students, alumni and retirees.

Work on those deadly crafting skills during "Beaders n' Eaters." Some food will be provided, but we welcome you to bring an item to share. We have dishes and utensils. Bring your favourite craft supplies and spend time chatting away while engaged in creativity. This is also a great place to learn!

Learn more here

National Indigenous History month allows for events and activities that create opportunities for gathering, knowledge and inclusion, which in turn sparks important relational connections for all. Let’s come together to celebrate, learn and grow.


Melissa Ireland

Indigenous funds to support

Indigenous Student Success Fund       

Provides financial assistance to Indigenous students experiencing financial hardship. The fund addresses a range of needs including emergency housing-related expenses, rental payment, funding security, and education enrichment. 

Indigenous Opportunities Fund        

Supports programming needs of the Office of Indigenous Relations. Under the direction of Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Relations, this unrestricted fund allows the office to fund urgent projects that may arise. 

Faculty of Arts Indigenous Initiatives Fund

Supports and promotes Indigenous Initiatives, and makes Indigenous histories and cultures more visible on campus through Indigenous-led programs, activities and events, including the annual Indigenous Speakers Series which highlights the voices of Indigenous artists, writers, activists, scholars and leaders from across Turtle Island.

Longhouse Labs Capital Fund    

The Longhouse Labs will provide emerging Indigenous visual artists with residencies and exhibition opportunities at Waterloo. Creating appropriate, dedicated and resourced space is a critical first step in supporting the experience of the artists.

Black and Indigenous Students Engineering Outreach Program  

Supports racialized youth in Grades 1 to 12 through programs and activities, and provides bursaries and/or scholarships. 

Engineering Equity Fund 

Supports activities related to diversity initiatives, including programming, outreach, research and awards.                                    

Note: The Office of Indigenous Relations manages a list of awards available for Indigenous Students