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Indigenous Student Centre
Indigenous Student Centre

Supporting Truth and Reconciliation on Laurier’s campuses

Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair has stated that education is the key to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. In recognition of the critical role universities must play in the reconciliation process, Laurier is committed to building capacity in Indigenous education on all of its campuses under the leadership of Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Support from Laurier donors plays a vital role in the university’s ongoing efforts to eliminate barriers for Indigenous learners, and helps to ensure Indigenous students who are studying at Laurier have the resources and support needed to thrive.

As we strive to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, the programs and services offered through the university’s Indigenous Student Centres are critical to assist with the provision of specialized academic, cultural and personal support programs to facilitate Indigenous student success.

Indigenous Student Centres

Generous donations have allowed for much-needed enhancements and improvements to the Indigenous Student Centres on Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses, creating an environment where Indigenous students can engage with cultural learning, share Indigenous knowledge and build community.

In Brantford, the generous support of the Grundy Family helped renovate Onkwehonwè:ne Brantford Campus. This enhanced Indigenous Student Centre creates a larger supportive and nurturing space for Laurier’s growing Indigenous student community, allows for much-needed staff and programming expansion, and increases vital access to academic programs and assistance with career development to further enhance employment options for Indigenous students.

In Waterloo, donors made possible the Nadjiwan Kaandossiwin Gamik – Beautiful Place of Learning project. Thanks to generous philanthropic investment, Lucinda House was renovated into an enhanced Indigenous Student Centre on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. This beautiful space provides a place where Laurier’s Indigenous student community can participate in ceremony and activities; where Laurier can demonstrate its commitment to Indigenous culture and learning, and to Indigenous students’ success; and where Indigenous students can find a “home away from home” on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. We offer our particular gratitude to the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Students’ Union, the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association, Mr. Ken Flood and the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association, who made significant gifts in support of this project.

Staff and faculty at both centres are eager to welcome students into the spaces in the fall of 2021, public health guidelines permitting. Check back in the fall for a virtual tour of the new spaces!

“Despite the current pandemic, I have every intention of returning to Laurier to further my studies and reuniting with my community at Laurier, which I miss every single day. I am incredibly grateful for the Indigenous Student Centres and their efforts to reach out to local Indigenous students. It has enriched my schooling experience unlike anything else.” Olivia Dodge (BMus ’20), past recipient of the Cherry Award

A new leadership role

As the most senior Indigenous leader at Laurier, the newly appointed Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Initiatives Darren Thomas will provide strategic advice, support and expertise to academic and administrative units across the institution to achieve goals related to Indigeneity, and will also further engage and strengthen partnerships with Indigenous communities.

“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to serve the Laurier community in this inaugural role,” says Thomas. “As a member of the Haudenosaunee along the Grand River, I look forward to representing and supporting Indigenous and allied students, staff and faculty in our collective efforts to ensure a safe, respectful and honourable environment for us all to work and learn together.”

Darren Thomas, Onodowa:ga (Seneca Nation) from the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations/Iroquois) territory of Oswe:ge (Grand River), joined Laurier’s Faculty of Liberal Arts in 2017 and is an associate professor in the Indigenous Studies department. As a researcher, Thomas focuses on Indigenous rights, resource governance and self-determination. Following the release of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, Thomas has worked in the educational, health care and child welfare sectors to support efforts to improve services as they work towards reconciliation and Indigenization.

To welcome Thomas to the new role, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives put together this short video. Listen to Professor Thomas as he shares his vision for the future of Indigeneity at Laurier and hear welcoming messages of support from his peers.

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, and with Thomas' leadership, Laurier looks forward to creating a culture of engagement that develops the whole person, building reciprocal community relationships and pursuing enhanced and accelerated initiatives to integrate Indigenous knowledge and practices across the university.


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