Laurentian University opened its Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre (ISLC) today as part of National Aboriginal Day celebrations. The ISLC brings together students, faculty, staff, and the community to enhance Indigenous education, advance understanding, and support the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. Equipped with a unique round-room gathering space, seminar room, counselling areas, ceremonial spaces, student lounge and a kitchen, the Centre will become a “home away from home” for many Indigenous students.
“Laurentian University has placed itself at the forefront of promoting Indigenous education and research, and also of fostering a welcoming atmosphere that encourages understanding and cooperation between students of all backgrounds,” said Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, Associate Vice-President Academic and Indigenous Programs. “The ISLC is the physical embodiment of that commitment. We hope that the Centre will bring our students together to find solutions that will make all our communities better places to live.”
The ISLC features 7500 sq. ft. of space that signifies an important and visible presence of Indigenous peoples at Laurentian University. The Centre was designed with input from the Indigenous community including the Laurentian University Native Education Council, who were instrumental in advocating and supporting its development. The spectacular round-room, inspired by the wigwam (the traditional building of the Indigenous peoples of this area) has four entry points that face each of the cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West), and is equipped with a state-of-the-art multi-media system. Its flexible configuration can accommodate large groups for a range of activities, including teaching, meeting, lectures and special celebrations. The room features an environmentally and sustainable green roof, and has views and access to outdoor teaching spaces and the surrounding landscaped area.
The Centre also features several specialized spaces for a range of activities including classrooms, counselling services and an area where students from remote Indigenous communities will be able to contact friends and family back home free of charge. The ISLC has two areas specially designated for smudging as well as an area for the preparation of traditional Indigenous cuisine.
“The best way to reconcile our sometimes painful past as a country and move forward to forge better communities for everyone is to encourage true understanding and collaboration between students of all backgrounds,” said Dominic Giroux, President of Laurentian University. “The ISLC provides an exceptional venue to bring people together and to promote a better understanding of Indigenous peoples, history, cultures and traditions.”
The Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre is the latest innovation to be implemented at Laurentian University following the Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2016. Laurentian recently inaugurated the Maamwizing Indigenous Research Institute to encourage the inclusion of Indigenous worldviews, knowledges and perspectives across all aspects of academic research. And as of September 2017, all undergraduates in the Bachelor of Arts program will also be required to take a minimum of six credits from the more than 100 courses offered with indigenous perspectives.
About Laurentian University
Laurentian University offers an outstanding university experience in English and French, with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. Laurentian University, situated on the traditional territory of the Anishinabe peoples of Atikameksheng First Nation, prepares students as agents of change and empowers them to create innovative responses to local and global challenges. Laurentian’s students benefit from small class sizes and exceptional post-graduation employment rates. With nine Canada Research Chairs and eighteen research centres, Laurentian is a recognized leader in its specialized areas of research strength, which include mining innovation and exploration, stressed watershed systems, particle astrophysics and rural and northern children’s health.