On Tuesday, June 21, SLC employees and students gathered on campus to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, which took place on the summer solstice. National Indigenous Peoples Day is a special occasion to learn more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences, and histories of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, a step forward for each Canadian to take on the path to reconciliation.
The day opened in the Indigenous Centre with the traditional Haudenosaunee thanksgiving address conducted in the Mohawk language by Shannon Hall, Education Developer/Curriculum Consultant of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being. The thanksgiving address was then recited in English by students and employees that were present for an interactive experience. Following this, attendees had a friendly rivalry in a game of Jeopardy aimed at getting to know the local territories of Tyendinaga and Akwesasne, table displays filled with pieces representative of Métis, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee, meant to engage conversations and share knowledge on basketmaking, treaties, wampums, traditional clothing, musical instruments, beading, and much more! Students and staff had an opportunity to engage and learn about the Anishnaabe Seven Grandfather teachings while making a pledge of allyship with Indigenous peoples, followed by a picture in a frame made by Katie Lamarche, Indigenous Recruitment & Community Engagement Officer, who also created an art slideshow inclusive of various Indigenous nations that played throughout the day.
We shared quite a few laughs, made some new SLC friends, and enjoyed traditional Haudenosaunee food, including fresh strawberry drink with Fry Bread and a side of Strawberry Mush. All-in-all, students and staff had a full day of sharing and caring, that concluded with a smudging circle facilitated by Shirley Chaisson, Indigenous Student Advisor.
Staff and students on campus enjoyed fresh strawberries from the Tincamp Berry Farm. Knowledge Keeper Helena Neveu shared the following wisdom: “Strawberries have great significance to the summer solstice as they are the berry at this time of year. Odemin Giizis...strawberry moon... heart berry is the translation... ode is heart and min is berry in Ojibway. When you cut the strawberry in half, you can see the heart shape. They have a beautiful smell and colour. Pinkish even, the colour of creativity. Sweet! Be curious because this is powerful time for magic. Be crazy, open, and honest with your feelings. Host a fire... sunrise or sunset ceremony. Just be grateful. Make a refreshing tea. Have fun in the kitchen with strawberries, creating. Put strawberries on everything! Go berry picking at a local farm and enjoy the beauty while you get sticky hands and a sticky chin. Most of all savour and embrace the joy of nature's gifts.”
The Kingston campus event took place in the cafeteria, in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day, the summer solstice and the first day of summer, the strawberry moon, and all of life for the Indigenous people, to be at one with nature, explained Helena Neveu, Knowledge Keeper at SLC. Attendees enjoyed Three Sisters Soup and Strawberry Drink made of fresh strawberries, water, and maple syrup. The event centered around sharing Indigenous food, knowledge, stories, tools, and more.
National Indigenous History Month Resources
- 10 Things to do on National Indigenous Peoples Day, written by Shannon Hall, Education Developer and Curriculum Consultant of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being at St. Lawrence College
- National Indigenous History Month Book Recommendations and SLC Virtual Library Display
- Government of Canada Learning Portal
- Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund - SLC is a legacy partner via the Legacy Schools and Legacy Spaces programs