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Nurturing an Indigenous campus community: Fall events and programs from the Indigenous Student Centre

September 13, 2021
As part of the Indigenous Student Centre’s weekly Cultural Connections series, Gary George (Officer for Community Relations, SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples) will facilitate two drum making sessions in October for self-identified Indigenous Students.

As the SFU community returns to campus this fall, the Indigenous Student Centre (ISC) is welcoming back Indigenous students, with a mix of both virtual and in-person activities.

The ISC operates under a vision of advancing Indigenous student success by providing culturally relevant and holistic programming, services and experiences. Using the goals outlined in the report Looking Back and Looking Forward: Empowering Indigenous Pathways, and through community-based academic and cultural supports, the ISC also helps to better Indigenous students’ post-secondary experience.

The ISC, like many others, was forced to pivot their activities from in-person to virtual over the pandemic. With the cultural importance of gathering, and a longstanding tradition of in-person campus events, the ISC successfully enacted quick changes to maintain community connections and traditions throughout the year (such as with the annual Honouring Feast, held virtually in 2020 and 2021). While the ISC is excited to return to in-person meetings, they will continue to offer the Indigenous student community select virtual sessions for increased flexibility and accessibility.

An important resource to support Indigenous student programming at SFU, the ISC is also a key partner and advocate in advancing SFU’s commitments to reconciliation, as outlined in the 2017 Walk This Path With Us report—specifically the calls to action for increased safe and welcoming Indigenous spaces on campus. Funding and expansion of the ISC is identified as a priority in Report with expansion of Indigenous student services and related projects underway at the university.

Here’s a guide to the programs and events Indigenous students can access on campus through the ISC this fall:

Eligibility: ISC programs and events are for self-identified Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) SFU students.

ISC Welcome Event

The ISC’s Fall 2021 Welcome Event will be held in 2 parts on September 15th. The first half is available online for students to join virtually and learn about what services the ISC offers. The second part will be hosted in-person at the ISC to socialize with the ISC community.

Wednesday, September 15th. Part 1 – 12:00-1:00pm, virtual; Part 2 – 1:00-2:00pm, AQ 2002, Burnaby Campus

Elders Program

Elders are valued and central members of the Indigenous community, holding traditional knowledge and history. Elder Margaret George (Skawahlook First Nation) and Elder Syexwalia (Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw) offer their wisdom and support to students, staff and faculty from across the SFU community, and can be contacted for traditional ceremonial activities, special events, and interviews, guest lectures, and committees. Currently enrolled self-identified Indigenous students are invited to attend drop-in sessions with Elder Margaret and Elder Syexwaliya, for guidance, support and mentorship.

Elder Syexwaliya: Weekly on Mondays from 11:30am-12:30pm in person
Elder Margaret: Weekly on Wednesdays from 11:00am-12:00pm virtually

Peer Cousin Mentorship Program

The ISC has four peer cousins who are all in their 3rd and 4th year of study who are eager to meet and mentor new students at SFU! Meet and get to know the cousins at the ISC Welcome Day on Sept 15th. The Peer Cousin Mentorship Program is an opportunity for Indigenous students at the university to connect with one another and support each other in their academic journeys. Senior Indigenous students looking to gain skills and experience as a mentor can apply annually at the end of the school year (approx. June). Peer Cousin Mentees can use the program to ask senior Indigenous students their questions about university and receive advice and guidance.

Peer Cousin Mentee applications are due September 15, 2021.

Cultural Connections

Cultural Connections invites Indigenous students to connect and unwind through cultural artistic activities. These casual gatherings allow students to share their own art, or attend one of a variety of workshops including beading, drum making, creating medicine pouches, and moccasin making. Cultural Connections provides space for Indigenous students to develop their own practices, engage with one another, and meet the ISC staff. This program will be offered both virtually and in-person throughout the semester depending on the activity. September will continue to be virtual. For a full list of dates and activities, please see the ISC calendar of events.

Weekly on Fridays, 2:00-4:00pm

Book Club

  • Discussion + Meet & Greet – September 22, 1:00-2:30pm, virtual
  • From the Ashes, by Jesse Thistle – October 27, 1:00-2:30pm, virtual
  • Moccasin Square Gardens, by Richard Van Camp – November 24, 1:00-2:30pm, virtual

Weekly Drop-Ins

  • Staff Drop-In – Tuesdays, 3:00-4:00pm and Thursdays, 10:00-11:00 am, virtual
  • Counsellors
    • Tanu – Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00pm, virtual
    • Jennifer – Thursdays, 1:00-4:00pm, virtual
  • Academic Advising – Tuesdays, 2:00-3:00pm, AQ 2002
  • Library Drop-in – Thursdays, 12:30-2:30pm, AQ 2002

The Indigenous Student Centre is open Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm, for students to study, eat lunch, or relax between classes, as well as receive support from ISC staff.