Brandon will celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on Wednesday, and a ceremonial fire and Teachings House will be held to honour the day on the Brandon University campus.
“National Indigenous Peoples Day has become a highlight on campus, as we celebrate the culture and contributions of all Indigenous peoples,” said BU President David Docherty, who noted that more than 15 per cent of BU students self-declare as Indigenous. “I encourage everyone to take part in as much of the celebrations as they can, whether here on campus or at celebrations in Brandon or elsewhere in the province.”
National Indigenous Peoples Day is held annually on June 21 to celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada. The main Brandon celebrations will be held at the Riverbank Discovery Centre, and include a day filled with pow wow, music, and entertainment. Sioux Valley Dakota Nation will also be hosting a re-Grand Opening and Summer Celebration at the Grand Valley campground, located at the corner of Grand Valley Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.
At BU, National Indigenous Peoples Day is also an opportunity to reflect on Reconciliation and academic decolonization. A significant BU announcement is planned for that day.
Students in one of BU’s main summer programs, PENT, have been given the day away from scheduled classes so that they are free to attend the celebrations. The long running PENT program, or Program for the Education of Native Teachers, is a community-based teacher education program where students learn at BU over the spring and summer while also working at schools in their home community during the school year.
Brandon University is a signatory to the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, and recently reaffirmed its longstanding commitment to Indigenous education. Guided by an Indigenous Education subcommittee of the BU Senate, the university continues to make important strides towards Indigenization, and this ongoing commitment is also reflected physically on campus.
Most recently, a Reconciliation sculpture entitled “Healing Together” was installed near the dormitories and Healthy Living Centre on campus. This soaring piece of public art is a campus landmark that inspired this year’s Convocation artwork.
As well, last summer saw the installation of a vastly expanded and renovated ceremonial firepit. Gifted the name of “Turtle Fire” due to the shape of the seating area and traditional medicine plants around it, the ceremonial firepit will be lit on National Indigenous Peoples’ Day for midday gathering and conversation.
“Many people will be at the Riverbank for the main celebrations, but for those on campus, it’s important to have a space to come together and acknowledge the importance of the day and to honour Indigeneity,” said Chris Lagimodiere, BU’s Indigenous Advisor to the President. “This day is more than a just a day, it is the connection, ceremony, and celebration that make it special.”
The Teaching House, planned for approximately 10 a.m. to noon, will honour National Indigenous Peoples Day and mark the summer solstice with conversations around the fire. Fire Keepers will light and tend to a sacred fire, while offering fire keeping teachings. The sacred fire will burn, honouring the memory of Indigenous children and those impacted by the recovery of unmarked graves. All are invited to attend with coffee, tea, and bannock provided.
Brandon University’s support for Indigenous education continues year-round. Along with Western Canada’s first and longest-running Native Studies department, a thriving Indigenous Peoples’ Centre, and courses in multiple Indigenous languages, the university supports incoming Indigenous students with the Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Transition Program. That program was recently gifted the name of Ishkode Saakaykateh, which translates to “A fire is lit” in Anishinaabe and ensures students have the appropriate personal and cultural supports to navigate and succeed in a Western-style colonial institution like academia. The Wagner family has also provided additional support to help BU expand Indigenous student recruitment opportunities.
Brandon University is also actively hiring for the newly created role of Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives, who will oversee and direct all major Indigenous initiatives at the University, as well as the work of the Director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre and other supports that are in place to assist in the success of Indigenous students at Brandon University.
- Brandon University
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Brandon University campuses are located on Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 territories, the homelands of the Dakota, Anishanabek, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dene and the Red River Métis. Our growing, progressive campus welcomes a diverse and inclusive community that combines proud tradition with shared ambition. Through our excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, we educate students to make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders. Join us at BrandonU.ca