Indigenous Connections - Spring 2024 | Volume 11

Monday, April 22, 2024
Yellow and red tulips in full bloom in front of the University greenhouse

Welcome to the 11th issue of Indigenous Connections, the Office of Indigenous Relations Newsletter.

Greetings, everyone! Spring is finally here, bringing with it a breath of fresh air and a burst of color. As we say “see you again” to winter and welcome the warmer days ahead, let's take a moment to soak in the beauty of this season of renewal. Just like the flowers blooming and the trees budding, it is a time for us to embrace growth and new beginnings. So, what seeds have you planted that are ready to sprout? Let's kick back, enjoy the long-awaited brighter days, and celebrate the joy of spring together! Here’s a bit of what has been going on and what is coming up that we can look forward to.

In this issue:

Upcoming events

Reconciliation: An Indigenous ontology of climate change

Join Dr. Deborah Mcgreggor for an insightful talk on what an Indigenous ontology of climate change looks like, with an emphasis on Anishinabek perspectives. Dr. Mcgreggor will provide a deeper understanding of climate justice issues facing Indigenous peoples and propose viable approaches to seeking a sustainable climate future on Indigenous peoples’ own terms. She will relate how these concepts can help realize the goals of Reconciliation in Canada. 

When: Tuesday April 23, 4:30pm – 6:30 pm 

Where: Optometry 347 

Register here.

Deborah McGregor

Sultans of String are coming to UWaterloo

On Monday, June 17th Sultans of String are coming to UWaterloo for a special concert "Walking Through the Fire" for the Indigenous community here to come together and celebrate National Indigenous History Month. More details to follow but please mark this date in your calendar and get ready for an evening of fun, food and music!

When: Monday, June 17th
Where: Federation Hall, University of Waterloo

Sultans of String

Drum Circle Wednesdays

Join us every Wednesday during lunch in the OIR space (EC5) - 4th floor) for a drum circle organized by Anishnaabe practicum student from the Master of Social Work - Indigenous Field of Study program at Wilfrid Laurier University, Siearra Miller. Bring your own drums if you have them or use one of the extras provided. No experience is necessary - all are welcome to participate in this weekly rhythmic gathering! 

When: Every Wednesday from 12:00 – 1:00pm 

Where: OIR Space- EC5 4201

Indigenous drum

Red Dress Day

Join Elders Myeengun Henry and Jean Becker to honour and remember our missing and murdered sisters and to show solidarity with their family and loved ones.

When: Friday, May 3, 2024 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm 

Where: B.C. Matthews Hall Green

Learn more here

Two red dresses hanging from a tree limb

Indigenous Verification Process

The University of Waterloo has introduced a new verification process starting from Fall 2023 to confirm Indigenous membership or citizenship for eligibility in designated Indigenous opportunities at the university. This process, overseen by the University Registrar under the office of the Associate Vice-President Indigenous Relations, applies to self-identified applicants seeking Indigenous-specific positions, awards, scholarships, bursaries, admissions, and tuition waivers. 

Sacred medicines laid out on animal hide

Regalia request for convocation ceremony

The University of Waterloo respects the wishes of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit graduands who choose to wear traditional regalia to a convocation ceremony. All First Nations, Métis and Inuit graduands, are welcome to wear traditional regalia in lieu of a convocation gown. You may also choose to wear your regalia under your gown. The choice is yours. After May 15th, 2024, there will be an updated regalia request form with specific indication for First Nations, Inuit and Métis graduands as well as an option to request a special gift as you cross the stage at convocation. 

Please watch this page for the form (being updated mid-May).

Indigenous drumming at a University of Waterloo convocation ceremony

Indigenization on Campus

A panel presentation in Needles Hall

A culturally responsive approach to health and wellness

The Office of Indigenous Relations was thrilled to partner with Campus Wellness to share and learn about wise practices for Indigenous care. On February 22nd in Needles Hall, keynote speakers and a panel of settler and Indigenous physical and mental health care providers shared their knowledge and expertise on culturally responsive approaches to health and wellness in Indigenous care. The panel led by Melissa Ireland dove into creating supportive spaces for Campus Wellness staff looking to support Indigenous students. Hopeful conversations emerged as we explored the barriers faced and envisioned ways to foster culturally sensitive care for a brighter future. 

A black stage with a projection of an artistic drawing of Chelsea Vowel

Reimagining our history with Indigenous futurisms

Chelsea Vowel was invited to campus as part of the Indigenous Speaker Series.  

Read the full story here. 

3 people seated on chairs at the front of an audience

Autumn Peltier joined us on campus for Water Day 2024

A digital rendering of the new Indigenous outdoor gathering space

Indigenous Outdoor Gathering Space coming Fall 2024

Breaking ground on the road to reconciliation. 

Full story here.

Smudging ceremony

Smudging training with Campus Wellness

On January 18th, Melissa Ireland, Director, Indigenous Relations, and, Sieara Miller, MSW practicum placement student, shared with selected members of the Campus Wellness team with an interest in plant medicine and teachings to learn about Indigenous use of medicines. Beyond personal narratives from Melissa and Sieara, some of the topics covered were smudging practices, learning about the 4 four sacred medicines, learning key website resources, access to smudging on campus and how to take care of and ethically source the medicines. At the end of the experience, Campus Wellness was gifted a resource hand-out and a smudging bundle by OIR to use for students or staff in their areas. There was a continued commitment from OIR to support Campus Wellness with education and resources as they learn and grow their resources for wholistic wellness.

Indigenous dancing

UWaterloo celebrates reconciliation with heartfelt event

The University of Waterloo's Cambridge campus buzzed with positive energy on February 14th as the Have a Heart Gathering Round Dance and Social brought people together. This collaborative effort, spearheaded by the School of Architecture, the Office of Indigenous Relations, and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC), celebrated Have a Heart Day, a powerful education campaign advocating for the well-being and education of First Nations children, created by The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Approximately 80 attendees enjoyed the evening, creating a positive impact and strengthening the bonds within the UW community. The success of this event paves the way for further collaboration, fostering understanding and reconciliation through shared experiences. 

A group of people gathered in chairs in the Office of Indigenous Relations

Moontime Teachings and Distribution Drop

The Moontime & Menstrual Product Distribution Drop event was a community gathering where attendees received menstrual products, and moon time teachings by Mohawk Midwife, Trista Hill. The distribution was made possible by The Menstrual Equity project at Waterloo, which aims to address period poverty and promote menstrual equity. The products provided were from Period Aisle, a company committed to sustainable and equitable period care. The event fostered connections and a sense of community among attendees, making it a meaningful and inclusive occasion. 

Robin Jones, Jean Becker and Jeremy Steffler

Faculty of Mathematics launches Equity and Inclusive Communities Principles

The Faculty of Mathematics recently launched the Equity and Inclusive Communities Principles, a set of eleven principles developed over two years by a diverse committee. These principles aim to guide efforts towards greater equity and inclusion within the faculty, emphasizing collaboration and connection with various communities. The launch event featured panel discussions and activities encouraging attendees to reflect on their roles in applying the principles. Special attention was given to Indigenous perspectives, with two Indigenous knowledge keepers contributing to the development process. 

Full story 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.