By Kelly Anne Smith
NORTH BAY – Celebrations were held at the Canadore College/Nipissing University Education Centre to start off the new school year. On Sept. 15, the grounds by the pond were bustling with dignitaries and students. Some were wearing their regalia while dancing to the drummers and singers. It was the Twelfth Annual Welcome Powwow.
The Welcome Powwow was hosted by Enji Giigdoyang, Nipissing University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and Canadore College’s First Peoples’ Centre. The public is always invited to the event which celebrated and shared Indigenous culture while honouring the diversity of students.
Students were jovial and pleased to be back with their academic community. Dawn Corston was excited talking about her academic plans. She is a citizen of Taykwa Tagamou First Nation near Cochrane. Corston is a Nipissing University student majoring in Native Studies.
Canadore’s First People’s Centre Student Ambassador is Mercedes Kitchicuppo Camillo. The 19 year old is from Moose Factory and a member of the Moose Cree First Nation. Kitchicuppo Camillo finds her Canadore community fun. “I went to high school in Sudbury and one year of college but I wanted to leave so I came here last year. A couple of my friends are attending here.”
Kitchicuppo Camillo attended her first powwow at Canadore and thinks “It would be cool” to have them in her home community. She studies Indigenous Pre-Health which encompasses Indigenous history and culture with science and math skills.
Celebrations continued on Sept. 16 at Nipissing University for the 25th anniversary of the institution. Guided hikes were offered on the 20km of trails; the documentary The Nipissing Warriors was shown; and the Fine Arts campus opened the doors for an exhibit of work by students and professors.
Nipissing University Elder Carol Guppy had many welcoming smiles to give visitors as she helped them make Tobacco Ties in the Enji giigdoyang Centre. In the Nipissing dialect of Anishnaabemwin, Enji giigdoyang means where we come to meet, discuss and talk about things.
Elder Carol Guppy is a citizen of Nipissing First Nation. Guppy enjoys educating students and members of the public on Indigenous culture, often offering circles. “We were smudging this morning and I was talking about how important it is – when we are smudging and working on Tobacco Ties – that we come from a really positive place.”
Guppy suggests having a tobacco tie on hand when asking an Indigenous person for a favor or advice. “Not everybody wants Tobacco Ties. Say, ‘can I offer you a Tobacco Tie?’ When you make an offer of a Tobacco Tie, there has to be a request.”