By Kelsey Mohammed and Michele Ramos
On September 29, Humber’s Lakeshore campus hosted Culture Days which featured family-friendly activities set up by Humber’s Aboriginal Resource Centre. There was live music, dancing, and artwork for sale at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Humber Lakeshore campus. Humber and the Etobicoke region have been named Adobigok, which means “Place of the Black Elders” in the Ojibwe Anishinaabe language.
A local elder, Shelley Charles, who was present at the event says, “I think that – we got involved with the Culture Days activities specifically because it was open to the entire community in Etobicoke.” Charles adds that it was important to “highlight Indigenous culture whether its dance, singing or artwork” particularly because the community geographically is the place known as Adobigok.
“I’m an educator here at the institution, my role is to learn about these issues and about the contributions of Native people in Canada.” Influencing the worldview and representing the distinct cultural background that the Aboriginal people came one of Charles’ main focuses.
Culture Days is a Canada-wide movement that highlights awareness and accessibility across different cultures in the community. Charles says that more work has to be done in educating the Humber community about Indigenous culture.
“Some Indigenous students need to feel safe in their classroom, it appears after the study they did last year, they found that most Indigenous students still don’t feel safe in their classrooms. We really need to look at those elements in our environment that include Aboriginal culture” Charles’ says.
Humber does provide Aboriginal Resource Centres at both the North and Lakeshore campuses. Daniel Deleary, also known as BIindigaygizhig describes the Centre as a place for Indigenous students to feel safe. “A lot of student travel in from First Nation communities all across Canada and Ontario, so the Aboriginal Resource Centre provides them an opportunity to centralize themselves,” Deleary says.
In terms of what the Humber community can do to ensure that we diminish the problems facing Indigenous students on campus, Charles says “we need to work on the notion of cultural competency; which includes the notion of having community safety, Indigenous awareness, application, and environment.”
She continues, saying this responsibility does not fall on the student, but rather “the faculty and staff should also have a working knowledge of those histories and the contributions of Native people to Canadian society.”