By Saima Asad, March 21 2017 —
The First Nations Students’ Association (FNSA) held their annual Indigenous Awareness event on March 15–16 at the University of Calgary.
The festivities started on Wednesday with a bannock giveaway in MacKimmie Tower, followed by a jingle dress dance and women’s traditional fancy dance in the Taylor Family Digital Library. Bannock is a traditional indigenous bread.
FNSA Chief Angélique Orr said she was pleased with the event’s turnout.
“Participation and attendance [were] incredible. For the bannock giveaway, approximately 90 pieces of bannock were prepared and by the end of the event, all pieces were gone,” she said.
A potlatch-style dinner was held on March 16. Chief Dr. Reg Crowshoe gave a blessing and spoke about the traditional history of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Calgary.
Canada’s national Indigenous Awareness Day is on June 21. The FNSA held the event on March 15–16 at the U of C because it aligned with previous events held by the FNSA, as well as indigenous awareness events at other post-secondary institutions.
Orr said hosting the event during the winter semester also ensured they would reach more students.
“We would like as many students as possible to take part in these events,” she said.
FNSA vice-president events Curtis Lefthand said the event was aimed at both indigenous and non-indigenous students.
“We want indigenous students to know that they’re safe here because there are people here that understand the level of how hard it is to be in a post-secondary environment and to be indigenous,” he said.
Lefthand said the lack of events celebrating indigenous culture on campus leaves a gap for the FNSA to fill. However, he sees potential for improvement in light of the U of C’s Indigenous Strategy, which will be unveiled this spring.
According to a statement from the U of C, “the first part of stage three [of the strategy] is now complete — the literature review, external and internal reviews and the analysis on the consultation events and online survey,”
Finalization of the Indigenous Strategy is set to begin this week, as a group of writers will come together to discuss the final document.