Elder Josephine Mandamin, Elder Jerry Otowadjiwan, Kevin Fitzmaurice, Professor in Indigenous Studies and Michael Hankard, chair of Indigenous Studies at the opening of Indigenous Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg arbour at the University of Sudbury.

By Laura E. Young

SUDBURY –  The external view is spectacular:  encompassing  the university campus, the lakes of the south end, the Idylwylde Golf Course, Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg has a bird’s eye view of the lay of the land.

The internal view of Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg at the University of Sudbury will depend on who seeks to spend time under its red roof and before its fire.

The arbour is open to all who seek knowledge and quiet times of reflection under its boughs of Manitoulin cedar, Douglas fir and its heavy metal red roof.

On a glorious fall day, with geese in formation above and the nearby woods bursting with colour, the University of Sudbury continued its journey towards reconciliation and walking with its Indigenous  students and faculty by opening the arbour on Sept. 14.

“I think it really as a milestone. The University of Sudbury has been engaged and committed to a better understanding of Indigenous culture. That started in the 70s,” said Sophie Bouffard, who recently completed the first year of her tenure as president of University of Sudbury.

“Today, with this new space on campus, it’s a place for ceremony it’s a place for reflection. It’s an outdoor classroom as well. It’s a learning place.”

It is about community and relationships, she added.  “It’s a peaceful place where you can be immersed in the environment and have a vision for the future.”

The arbour has been under discussed for a number of years; concrete plans were in the works with Sudbury’s 3rd Line Studios last fall.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in June and the structure was ready for its September opening. The project cost about $140,000, Bouffard said.

University Elder Jerry Otowadjiwan and Elder Josephine Mandamin, of Thunder Bay, shared their wisdom, and assisted with a Pipe Ceremony, the Lighting of the First Fire, and the Offering, the University of Sudbury wrote in a press release..

“It’s about time the university recognized what we use for our ceremonies. I’m happy they built it,” said Mandamin, at the feast after the ceremony. The Thunder Bay grandmother led the Great Lakes water walk from 2003-2009. She was also conducting a water walk with Wahnipitae First Nation near Sudbury.

The arbour is located near the outdoor hockey rink on the campus of the University of Sudbury, adjacent to Laurentian University.

Laurentian opened its long-awaited Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre on June 21.