They were a few poles short and it took a couple tries, but aboriginal students managed to raise a teepee on NAIT grounds.

The teepee-raising kicked off Aboriginal Awareness week at NAIT. Each day this week, students can participate in different interactive events that showcase Inuit, First Nations and Métis culture.

According to Cree elder Walter Bonaise, who directed the raising, it should only take about 15 minutes to set up a teepee. Yesterday it took an hour.

“There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” he said.

Bonaise said the importance of raising a teepee is for young people to understand who they are as human beings.

“You have to be part of it to know it, here,” he said, tapping his heart.

Student Wendal Houle said it’s hard work to set up a teepee, but important work. Both he and Bonaise worry that the tradition is dying among the younger generation.

Derek Thunder, who works in the EnCana Aboriginal Centre on campus, says events like this are important to show students that NAIT is an all-inclusive institution that supports diversity.