Indigenous Connections - Fall 2023 | Volume 9

Wednesday, November 1, 2023
A partially complete puzzle of a wampum belt

Weclome to the Fall 2023 Edition of Indigenous Connections

Happy November! We appreciate you taking the time to read the 9th edition of the Indigenous Connections Newsletter. As the crisp fall leaves blanket our campus, we reflect on the beauty and significance of the fall and embrace the changing season with the arrival of November. Fall is a time that allows us to enjoy the harvest and receive everything from the seeds we planted in the spring and nurtured in the summer. We hope you take a moment to reflect on all the hard work you’ve been putting into all areas of your life and stop to enjoy the “harvest”. The colours of the leaves as they change colour and fall away also remind us that there is beauty in letting go. What are you releasing this season that is no longer serving you? 

In this issue:

A group photo of all the members of the Office of Indigenous Relations

A message from the Office of Indigenous Relations

The month of November is filled with significant days of remembrance. 

November marks Indigenous Disabilities Awareness Month (IDAM), recognizing the impact of Canada’s Indigenous community with disabilities and the challenges faced by those with intersecting and marginalized identities. With disability rates of twice as much as non-indigenous population, IDAM, established in 2015 is rapidly gaining recognition. We will be hosting two events this month in honour of IDAM. 

On November 7th, we hosted a film screening of "The Experimental Eskimos" and a sharing circle with Inuk Elder Mini Akparook to recognize International Inuit Day.

November 8th, we observed Indigenous Veterans Day, to pay tribute to the remarkable contributions of Indigenous Peoples in service to Canada. 

November 16th we will acknowledge and celebrate the legacy of Métis leader, Louis Riel. Although Louis Riel Day commemorates one of the great tragedies of Canadian history (the anniversary of the execution of Riel in 1885) it is also a time to celebrate Métis culture and the continuing progress that Métis people are making, taking their rightful place within Confederation.

We also marked Treaties Recognition Week November 5th- 11th, signifying a time to learn about our collective treaty rights and responsibilities and foster understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. We were thrilled to host two events and would like to extend a Nya:wenkowa (big thank you) to Clayton Samuel King and Elder Myeengun Henry for leading us through these and to all who attended.  

Read on to see what else we have coming up and all the good work that's been happening on and around campus!

Indigenization on Campus

Red ribbons tied on a bridge

Raising awareness on gender-based violence

John Lewis

John Lewis appointed Director, Indigenous Faculty Relations

A red fox in the middle of a green field

Waterloo's urban forest receives national healing forest designation

Archbishop Bolen

Discussing Truth and Reconciliation within the Catholic Church

Jean Becker, Myeenguen Henry and President Vivek Goel

Waterloo commemorates National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on campus

Digital rendering of the new UW residence

University of Waterloo to build new, 500-bed residence prioritizing Indigenous design principles


Welcome Dr. John Lewis: Director of Indigenous Faculty Relations

John is Métis and a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. John’s role is to work broadly with the University community to achieve its goal of Indigenizing and decolonizing the institution. He provides critical perspectives/insights to Indigenous faculty relations in collaboration with relevant stakeholders on campus, including members of the Indigenous Advisory Circle, as well as external Indigenous communities on the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan.

Welcome John!

Dr. John Lewis

A heartfelt farewell to Laura Belben

With mixed emotion, we share that Laura's last day as Indigenous Student Support Counsellor with UWaterloo will be November 17th. We want to thank Laura and acknowledge the difference she has made in many students' lives and what a wonderful edition she was to the Indigenous Relations team. We wish Laura all the best on her next adventure and future endeavours.

Laura Belben

Something to Celebrate

Cartoon of a colourful confetti canon

In the spirit of unity, our office hosted a spooktacular United Way fundraiser this Halloween. Our online and offline silent auction conjured up a spirited competition, offering an array of items for bidding. The highlight of the day was a simple yet heartwarming lunch at our office, featuring comforting soups and bannock. The cauldron of community spirit bubbled over, and we're thrilled to announce that we raised just over $1000 for United Way! A massive thank you to all who participated. 

Upcoming Events

You Don't Know What You Don't Know Part 1 | November 21

Open to all University of Waterloo community members. Virtual 3-hour small group workshop

"You Don't Know What You Don't Know" is a 3-part workshop that journeys through First Nations, Inuit, and Métis relations with settlers. As the title indicates, you don't know, what you don't know so everyone is welcome. You will be introduced to the concept of Miskasowin (wholistic self-evaluation) that will define content, context, and relationship promoting further action, accountability, and responsibilities as a treaty person in this land now known as Canada.

To fully engage with the learning, it is recommended that attendees attend all 3 parts. This workshop is offered in Fall and Winter terms, so if you miss a part, you may attend in future terms. 

When: Tues, Nov 21 at 9am-12pm
Where: Online

Open to all, please register and learn more here

Film Screening of Soop on Wheels | November 22

In recognition of Indigenous Disabilities Awareness Month we will be screening Dr. Sandy Greer’s documentary "Soop on Wheels" featuring Everette Soop. We will watch the film together and have a Q&A session with the filmmaker, Dr. Sandy Greer! 

When: Weds, Nov 22 at 7-9:00 PM
Where: EC5 1111

Open to all, please register and learn more here

Indigenous Student Wellness Events | November 28, December 6

We are pleased to introduce a series of Indigenous Wellness Events happening this fall on and off campus that was created for Indigenous students in collaboration with WISC and Campus Wellness. These events are designed to create a safe space for connection, celebration and healing while embracing Indigenous teachings and cultures.

Upcoming event for this term:

November 28 - Social Fire at United College
December 6 - Putting A Good Mind into Practice
Read more and register for the events here

Giving Tuesday | November 28

November 28th is Giving Tuesday, where people around the world will donate to the causes they care about. From Tuesday, November 21 – Tuesday, November 28, we’re asking you to make a special gift to support the Indigenous community here at of UWaterloo. We will be raising funds for the Indigenous Opportunities Fund as well as the Indigenous Student Success Fund. Please stay tuned for ways to show your support and save the date!

Disability Decolonized: Keynote Presentation by Dr. Rheanna Robinson | December 1

In observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) and Indigenous Disability Awareness Month, the Disability Inclusion Team and the Office of Indigenous Relations are honoured to co-host a keynote presentation on Indigenous perspectives on disability. Keynote speaker Dr. Rheanna Robinson will draw on her lived experience as a Métis woman with a disability, her work as a disability advocate, and her research as an Indigenous scholar at the University of Northern British Columbia. 

When: Fri, Dec 1 at 11am-12:30pm
Where: Fed Hall, University of Waterloo + Zoom 

Open to all, please register and learn more here

WIISNIDAA End of Term Feast December 1

This event is for all current Indigenous students, staff, faculty and retirees and is hosted by the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC). This gathering is a time for all of us to connect, celebrate, and end the term and year in a good way. Big appetites and belly-laughs are encouraged!

Please register and learn more here

Territorial Acknowledgement

As the Canadian Association of University Teachers described in their guide to territorial acknowledgment for Canadian universities, “[…] acknowledging territory is only the beginning of cultivating strong relationships with the First Peoples of Canada." 

The University of Waterloo is located on the Haldimand Tract and learning the history of this Treaty is an important way to not only connect the past with the present, but also provides space and time to reflect on the ways in which we are all treaty people.

Learn more about the Haldimand Tract with Phil Monture, who is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River. From 1975 to July 2002, Phil was the Director of the Land Claims Research Office at the Six Nations of the Grand River. Phil's video lecture was recorded as part of Treaties Week 2020.

Visit the Indigenous Relations Territorial Acknowledgement resource page to learn more about creating your own acknowledgement.