April 4, 2019, THUNDER BAY, ON – Second-year students in Confederation College’s Native Child and Family Services program organized and hosted the ‘Red Road Gathering’ event Thursday, to honour Indigenous organizations, institutions and service providers. The event was the students’ way of saying thank you to these groups who have served the community. Nominations were put forth by the students, with recipients being selected via a class vote.
“We wanted to honour agencies and organizations who have provided valuable services to our community,” said Thomastine Shawayahamish, one of the student organizers in the program. “We hope that by recognizing these groups, they will be motivated to continue the important work they are doing.”
Awards were given with gratitude and recognition based on the Seven Grandfather Teachings of respect, love, wisdom, humility, truth, bravery and honesty. The organizations honoured with awards are:
- Shelter House. Respect (Mnaadendimowin) ‘The Buffalo’ - To honor all of the Creations is to have Respect.
- Ontario Native Women’s Association. Love (Zaagidwin) ‘The Eagle’ - To know Love is to know peace.
- People Advocating for Change through Empowerment Inc. (PACE). Wisdom (Nbwaakaawin) ‘The Beaver’ - To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom.
- Regional Multicultural Youth Council. Humility (Dbaadendiziwin) ‘The Wolf’ - Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation.
- Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre. Truth (Debwewin) ‘The Turtle’ - Truth is to know all of these things.
- Beendigen. Bravery (Aakwa’ode’ewin) ‘The Bear’ - Bravery is to face the foe with integrity.
- John Howard Society. Honesty (Gwekwaadziwin) ‘The Raven’ - Honesty in facing a situation is to be true to self.
Moffat Makuto, Executive Director of the Multicultural Association of Northwestern Ontario, shared what it meant for his organization to be among the award recipients. “I was surprised and overwhelmed to receive this award,” he said. “When students, as busy as they are with their coursework, still find the time to recognize what we are doing in the community, it is both flattering and an honour. Their acknowledgement makes me feel like we must be on the right track with the work that we do.”
The event also included a youth panel, led by six high school students on issues of significance to them. “In addition to celebrating the work of Indigenous organizations, we wanted to provide a safe space and platform for Indigenous youth to speak about their concerns, thoughts and opinions,” Shawayahamish said. “As a class, we wanted to help our youth be heard to be as they are the leaders for the next generation. Another goal of the panel was to help guide the future work of the organizations we celebrated at our event. ”
Pam Burton, Coordinator of the Native Child and Family Services program is extremely proud of her students for having such a broad vision with this event and for putting such a large amount of work in to make it a reality. “They wrote a proposal for the event and aligned it to the College Strategic and Academic Plans,” Burton said. “They held bake sales to fundraise for the event and also secured sponsorships. They really thought this event out from start to finish, considering everything from venue and logistics to cultural activities and event promotion. Immersive learning experiences like this one really help to advance our students’ learning as they prepare for their careers.”
The Red Road Gathering event spotlighted the importance of social justice, a topic that is central to the Native Child and Family Services program. The program focuses on how to effectively overcome cultural, geographical and other barriers. Students learn how to help connect people with the services they need in their everyday lives in Thunder Bay and throughout the region. Most importantly, they will learn how to work with Indigenous children and families and advocate for a better future for Indigenous peoples.
For more information about the Native Child and Family Services program and to apply, visit: www.confederationcollege.ca/nativechildfamily.
Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has eight regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Geraldton, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Wawa.
Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 6,500 combined full- and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 850 full- and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $643.4 million annually.
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