HSAD unveils new indigenous space

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Fleming College has opened a space for indigenous students to “hang out with each other, or just be themselves, to build community within the community,” said Clorise Taylor, manager of indigenous services at the college during a June 30 opening.

Many staff members, Haliburton School of Art + Design dean Xavier Massé, and community members attended the open house last Friday.

They were welcomed into the lounge space, and given a chance to explore the learning lodge which was built in the spring.

“The learning lodge is a space that is meant for teaching and learning,” said Liz Stone, vice president of indigenous knowledge and relations at Fleming. “Each sapling that was used to build this means something, levels of learning, teaching moments among others. And, those who built this last spring are responsible for coming back and teaching those who build the next one, in the spring.”

Stone added with the Truth and Reconciliation call to action, the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous peoples, and the Indigenous Education protocol, which was signed in 2015, it is her job to make sure the college is accountable. “Part of the accountability was the creation of my positions in the college; first a faculty member and now the VP of knowledge and relations.”

The college has spaces in each of its campuses specifically for indigenous students and they are all named Biindigen which is Anishinaabe for “welcome.” However, Haliburton was the last to complete one.

A mural in the new area was done by Jared Tait, a woodland artist from Thunder Bay. He said he and his wife and new baby moved into the space for about three days to complete the piece. “There were cots, tables, snacks, and diapers everywhere,” the artist laughed. “I sketched it out freehand in about 20 minutes, took a day to colour block and then about two days to complete.” The mural depicts a new life being welcomed into the space, with creatures and nature. The artist called it Welcoming Song.