Indigenous culture is at the heart of Canada’s history. In fact, “Canada” is derived from Iroquois language for “village” or “settlement.” But the influence of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit culture is also an integral part of our present, and our future.
Canadian colleges and universities provide students with the means to recognize and celebrate indigenous history, arts, culture and languages. Most schools have an indigenous student services department; this is a great place to connect with other students. These departments may host a day of dancing or drumming, or have information on events in the area to allow students to find out more and get involved. Many provide counselling and advocacy services, along with significant resources and guest lecturers who cover cultural and political issues.
Mark Solomon, Seneca College’s manager of First Peoples@Seneca, says the most important reason to take part in these services offered is “to stay connected to indigenous roots and gain insight and awareness into the indigenous culture.”
During the 1960s, an era when many of Ontario’s Colleges were being established, Canada’s indigenous culture served as inspiration. The founding members of the Board of Governors for Seneca College were inspired by the history of the Seneca Nation, and decided to attribute the name after them. Other colleges, including Mohawk and Algonquin, were also named after the First Nations people who lived in those areas.
There are many ways to be inspired by indigenous culture and gain a better understanding of historical influence. For instance, try browsing galleries and exhibits to view artwork or delve even deeper by taking a course or a program in First Nations culture.
Toronto has a high concentration of First Nations and indigenous peoples: almost 75,000. Take advantage of the diversity that is Toronto; you are guaranteed to find ways to explore the cultures that make it the exciting, multi-ethnic place it has become.
Jacqueline Hansen is a student ambassador at Seneca College.