By Marina Gendi
It is safe to say that every student at Concordia is excited about the new Centre for Science, but what is more exciting was the grand opening of the Indigenous Knowledge and Research Centre. On September 21st, 2018, the ceremony took place. The service included some fantastic cultural practices, such as a Pipe Ceremony, food, and refreshments. All the Deans from each faculty and many students came to support the opening of this new centre.
The creation of the centre was proposed in the “Indigenous Strategy,” which was created by fellow Concordia alumni. One alumnus in particular, Faron Cahoon, was presented with a beautiful Blanket Ceremony, he received a Star Blanket from the Elders Council. In Faron’s speech, he relays how his fellow alumni Damon, Louis, and Paul Beach (former Concordia professor) wanted to start a community, to provide an atmosphere to learn about the culture. Cahoon explains that he was walking around the hallways one day when he ran into the President of Concordia and had a conversation, which led to Concordia asking him if he was willing to develop the Indigenous Strategy for them.
The centre is a safe space for students to come together. “A home away from home,” as Manager Danielle Powder says. It is a place where Indigenous students can come to study, eat, and gather while cultural practices surround them. Also, the centre is meant to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Indigenous individuals have excellent knowledge of not only historical practices but even things such as medical expertise. The centre is meant to provide knowledge for everyone, particularly about the community and the cultural practices involved within the community.
The centre is beginning to cultivate a variety of books, including maps, historical documents, and information for research purposes. The goal is to be able to have primary sources on record. For the time being, these books can be utilized during the centre’s hours. These books cannot be taken out of the centre yet. The IKRC and Concordia Library are working on hosting a rotating collection of Indigenous works, and once this takes place, the books may be signed out.
There are many other opportunities the centre offers. Many of them can be found on the announcement board. The board includes information on volunteer resources and events that are occurring–for example, the Round Dance that took place on September 22 at the Ralph King Athletic Centre. Another event happening is the free screening of the Indian Horse on September 27 at 4pm and on September 30 at 6pm for the general public in Concordia’s Al and Trish Huehen Theatre. Scholarships and awards will also be posted on the announcement board. For example, The Metis Education Foundation announced that it would be giving a $250,000 endowment that Concordia will match within a 10-year term.
Concordia is paving the pathway for success. The Indigenous Knowledge and Research Centre shows how far the university has come and how much further it can go. I am excited to see what’s next.