Brandon University is celebrating Indigenous excellence

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Brandon University is celebrating the achievements of Indigenous students, faculty, staff and the community in the weeks leading up to spring solstice and beyond.

“We plan and celebrate an Indigenous Excellence Week every year, and this year’s just kept expanding until we had a month and more,” said Chris Lagimodiere, BU’s Director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre and Aboriginal Initiatives. “Really, Indigenous excellence is a focus throughout the year, and this is a great opportunity to bring particular focus to some of the accomplishments we are most proud of.”

Some events started as early as late January, and events are planned through to at least the spring solstice in March, with eyes also set on National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on June 21.

The spread-out nature of the events takes into consideration the ongoing pandemic, which is preventing traditional in-person celebrations.

“We are taking a broader approach to Indigenous Excellence this year,” said Michelle Bessette, and Indigenous Student Success Officer at BU, who is coordinating many of this year’s events. “We are spreading it out in a way that makes it easier for people to join in how and when they prefer.”

She also said that, after a year of virtual events, they were looking as much as possible to give people real ways to take action in support of Indigenous excellence.

“We are providing a Zoom background for virtual support, and we have a large number of events being streamed that you can take part in at home, but we also want people to engage in person in a safe way,” she said. “One great way to do that is to pre-order some bannock smokie-dogs or raffle tickets to support National Indigenous People’s Day. You can also take part in our paint night. Although the instruction is online, the painting is right there in your home.”

She also said that they were hoping everyone would take the opportunity to recommit to education about Indigenous issues. To that end, the John E. Robbins library at BU has curated a number of resources for learning, and BU is linking to a 12-week online course through the University of Alberta exploring Indigenous issues.

Other events include virtual open houses, streamed music concerts, preparatory information for prospective students, and guidance for students who are interested in pursuing law school.

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