McGill Students at AFN’s Youth Summit on Language Revitalization

The Assembly of First Nations hosted an online National Youth Gathering from the Languages and Culture Sector virtually over the weekend of October 17th and 18th. This gathering, Spirit Speakers: Our Languages, Our Future, was originally scheduled for March 27th-30th 2020, however, due to health concerns stemming from COVID-19, the gathering was canceled.

The gathering’s goal was to create a collaborative discussion space for youth to share their experiences, best practices, successes, challenges, and recommendations regarding the revitalization, promotion, and maintenance of Indigenous languages.

One of the organizers of the gathering is Isabelle Zwicker, an Anishinaabe student who is currently at McGill studying Law. In the gathering itself, Zwicker helped facilitate and moderate discussions as well as making sure that the gathering ran smoothly. As well, Vanessa Racine (a linguistics student at McGill and Administrative Coordinator for ISCEI) attended the conference.

Some of the concerns that participants voiced were the lack of visibility of Indigenous languages both in schools as well as in general media.

The ideas, experiences, and comments from the First Nations youth participants were compiled into a report and will be shared with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and other leaders in language revitalization.

Indigenous Student Alliance raises funds for Joyce Echaquan

Over the last couple of weeks, the Indigenous Student Alliance (ISA) raised over 600.00$ to support Joyce Echaquan‘s family. In order to raise the funds, the ISA raffled a purse (see image) made by Karahkwinetha (Sage) Goodleaf, who is a Kanienʼkehá:ka student at McGill University.

The ISA is a community-based group of Indigenous students and allies working to improve student life on campus. They provide integrative support for Indigenous peoples attending McGill University, so that we may connect and share our Indigenous ways of knowing with each other and with non-I

ndigenous peoples in the community. Their vision is to develop networks and partnerships with university student groups and organizations through learning–teaching relationships that foster real and meaningful human development and community solidarity.

Joyce was a member of Atikamekw Nation from Manawan and was supporting seven children, may she rest in power. If you would like to further support Joyce’s family, donations are still being accepted on the GoFundMe page.

 

 

 

Pick Your Path returns for March Break Sessions

This summer, Branches launched a mentorship program titled Pick Your Path, a four-week online learning experience. Indigenous students from highschool, CEGEP as well as university were able to participate in the program.

Pick Your Path provides students with the opportunity to explore a variety of academic fields as well as career exploration. It also provided an opportunity for Indigenous students to familiarize themselves with McGill, and how they can be part of the larger community. Branches seek to create equitable opportunities for students interested in pursuing academics. University Advancement recently published an article about the program, including this video:

Branches plans to offer two more sessions during March Break in 2021 for high school students. The program is offered to Indigenous students as well as those in underrepresented communities. To learn more about Branches’ outreach initiatives, check out their website!

Branches brings in new Student Ambassadors!

This year, Branches (McGill’s Community Outreach Program) hired two new student ambassadors. It is the first year Branches has hired ambassadors, and they will be helping in creating sustained relationships with Indigenous communities and helping empower younger students to engage in education. The two ambassadors this year are Amanda and Leon!

Amanda is a third-year BCL/JD student at the McGill Faculty of Law. Her grandmother was from Pikwakanagan First Nation, and her grandfather was a member of the Ontario Métis Nation. Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, she moved to Montreal during high school. Prior to studying law, she obtained a DEC in Liberal Arts from John Abbott College. One of her favourite parts of law school has been the opportunity to study Indigenous legal traditions and the relationship between the Canadian State and Indigenous peoples. Amanda is excited and very grateful to have the chance to broaden her understanding of Canada’s Indigenous communities by working at Branches.

As an Indigenous Ambassador, Amanda will be supporting Branches’ outreach programs, both by working on existing projects and creating new programming. She is especially looking forward to incorporating an Indigenous perspective, and involving Indigenous communities, in her work. 

Leon is Coast Salish from the Kwantlen First Nation, and is studying at the Desautels Faculty of Management pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in strategic management, a concentration in information systems, and a minor in Indigenous studies. Having been able to discover more about his Indigenous heritage through various courses in the Indigenous studies program at McGill, he has been able to extend and refine his existing knowledge and gain a greater view of Indigenous nations as a whole. Currently based in Richmond, BC due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been able to continue his studies at McGill in his home community, while having the chance to meet community leaders through his sister, Atheana Picha, who is a practicing Coast Salish artist in Vancouver.

Being a part of the Branches Program, as well as the Welcome Centre, Leon will be working on various projects throughout the year including the redevelopment of McGill tours through the inclusion of Indigenous content, as well as various outreach and recruitment projects ranging from podcasts, to webinars, to panels.

To learn more about Branches and what they do, be sure to check out their webpage. We are so excited to see what the new ambassadors will be up to this year! 

McGill Student and Professor attend 2020 Beading Symposium

The 2020 Beading Symposium: Ziigimenshin, was held February 6-9th. It is the second iteration of the Beading Symposia, with the first being held in Tkaronto in 2019. This year’s iteration took place in Winnipeg and was organized by the Manitoba Craft Council (MCC) in partnership with Urban Shaman, Manitoba Museum, with ancillary programming by MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art). The symposium served as a place to contribute to the scholarly study of Contemporary Indigenous Art, with a focus on community and the role beadwork has in it.

With travel funding support from the Andrew W. Mellon-funded ISCEI, McGill Art History student Hana Nikčević and Professor Gloria Bell traveled to attend the symposium.

Alongside the symposium, attendees were also able to visit exhibitions such as Endurance ….. Patience curated by Daina Warren at Urban Shaman and Community Beading Table Group Show curated by Niahm Dooley at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA).

Hana Nikcevic discussed her experience at the Symposium, and particularly appreciated “the chance to learn about beadwork as a creative practice with resonances for cultural heritage, intergenerational knowledge transfer, community building, and aesthetic experimentation.”

The Symposium also focused on contemporary beading and encouraged participants to bring their own projects to work on at the many beading tables that fostered community and new connections. Ziigimenshin provided a space to explore and create a dialogue about the interrelatedness of history and present, theory and practice, creativity, and community.

To learn more about ISCEI’s funding opportunities, click here!

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