Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre

Fall 2015

Community-building by the Fire

Architect/s rendering of Fire GoundsWouldn't it be wonderful to hold a celebration out on the Green in front of a glowing fire? St. Paul's has developed a Ceremonial Fire Grounds and Medicine Garden to be built at the College that will support the cultural and educational outreach programs of the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre. It will also facilitate community-building throughout the university and surrounding area.

The Ceremonial Fire Ground is in the shape of a medicine wheel. It was designed by Brian Roth, Architects, and was developed in close consultation with Fire Keeper Al MacDonald of KitchenerThe Garden will contain plants and herbs such as sage, cedar, sweetgrass, and tobacco, which are traditionally used for smudging ceremonies and medicinal or blessing purposes.

If you would like to support this project, please contact Stephen Loo.

Circle of Life-long Learning Camp blends past and future

The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre introduced a new family-based interactive summer camp last August, geared toward engaging, informing and entertaining young Aboriginal participants and their caregivers, all while exploring the power and possibilities of science, technology, and engineering in a culturally based setting.

The Circle of Life-long Learning camp was made possible because of a generous grant provided by the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. Thirteen youth and eight caregivers had a fun and engaging learning experience over five days days and got to experience life at St. Paul's and the University. Program facilitator Kelly Laurila used the First Nations’ Seven Sacred Teachings (wisdom, respect, bravery, honesty, humility, truth, and love) as a tool to educate and bring the group together. 

Participants practice hoop dancing

Some of the cultural programming throughout the week included a hoop dancing workshop (above), drumming with the Good-Hearted Woman Singers, Aboriginal craft making, and singing songs by a sacred fire. Campers also participated in a diverse range of educational opportunities, including science demonstrations by Engineering Science Quest, a tour of a residential school, cooking lessons with renowned Indigenous Chef Kai Zyganiuk, as well as a keynote speech delivered by accomplished athlete and Muay Thai kickboxer, Ashley Nichols.

Soup and Bannock special guests

While not the first time that well-known personalities have come for soup and bannock at the Aboriginal Centre, this fall we saw celebrated playwright Tomson Highway, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer, NDP candidates Diane Freeman and Susan Cadell, as well as Liberal candidate Bardish Chagger (now MP for the riding) join the staff and students for a hearty meal. Chagger even made the bannock when she visited!

Staff and students with Tomson Highway

Staff and students with Tomson Highway (centre, back row)

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