St. Lawrence College (SLC) has renamed and rebranded the Indigenous Student Centres on each campus in Kingston, Brockville, and Cornwall as part of their continuing journey of reconciliation and commitment to Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being (IWKB).
According to a release from the college, this commitment, and the steps being taken, will ensure that IWKB is embedded in SLC’s culture, programs, and services. Formerly known as the Eagle’s Nest Indigenous Centre, the new name for the Indigenous Student Centres is Waasaabiidaasamose (Whah-sah Bid–eh–so–may) Indigenous Centre.
The College’s strategic plan, SLC in Five, outlines its commitment to IWKB by honouring history and contributing to a positive future for Indigenous learners and communities, according to SLC President and CEO, Glenn Vollebregt. “At SLC, we take this commitment seriously, as it is now more important than ever that Canada, as a nation, is held to account for its treatment of Indigenous peoples. We all can work towards creating a better, positive, and inclusive future.”
The Waasaabiidaasamose Indigenous Centre is a welcoming space for Indigenous students to study, socialize, and participate in events and programming, the college stated. The Centre also provides resources, computers, craft sessions and other cultural activities, and has on-site Indigenous Advisors. Each Centre welcomes the broader campus community to visit and participate in events, to foster greater awareness and appreciation of Indigenous history and culture. Read more about the rebranding and its meaning.
The new name is in honour of Helena Neveu, who, as a member of the SLC Indigenous and Student Affairs team since 2014, has shared guidance and wisdom to help shape the College’s path and programming, according to the release. The College has expanded Neveu’s role, and effective this September, she became SLC’s full-time Knowledge Keeper In-Residence, working alongside SLC’s Indigenous Centre teams to increase awareness and understanding of Indigenous history, traditions, and culture.
Neveu, whose spirit name is Waasaa Biidaasamose Kwe, meaning Walks far Woman, promotes health and well-being by encouraging students to find balance in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their daily lives, as she explains: “Ndizhinikaaz Waasaabiidaasamose Kwe. It is good to sit by the fire. I began my journey with being a helper in mind. Through my creation story, my drum, my song, and many significant life experiences, I share my strengths and weaknesses. I humbly put down my tobacco and ask the Creator to help me with my words to convey a message of how I was carried many times through my journey by my ancestors, the singers. We all sing different songs, but we all sing. We choose to tell our life story; I tell my true story as they wait to waltz me to the moon. Please know I have an inexhaustible desire to help students strive for their personal excellence through Indigenous education and land-based training. Engaging family and community creates improvements and I marvel at the green that comes with rainbows and pots of gold. I would like to tell our students that I may hoard fabric, have a raincoat and a fur, I still ride my bike and pay my mortgage and swear under my breath, all so I can set a good example for myself, for you, our students, our staff and faculty, and our community. Chi Miigwitch, St. Lawrence College, for this incredible gift.”
Details about receptions to unveil the new name and visual identity of the Indigenous Centres on each SLC campus will be forthcoming.