When former Four Directions Aboriginal Centre Director Janice Hill (Kanonhsyonne) moved to Richardson Hall to assume a new leadership position, a significant gap remained in her place. Now, Tyendinaga native Kandice Baptiste is set to replace Hill beginning in February.
The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre has served as a resource for Indigenous students on campus since 1996, providing cultural programming and a safe and inclusive space for student use. Moving to 146 Barrie St. in 2000, the Centre announced on Oct. 11 the addition of the 144 Barrie St. home as part of the University’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Report.
Baptiste is eager to continue projects benefitting Indigenous students when she assumes her new role next month.
“My hope is to continue the work already being done,” Baptiste wrote in an email to The Journal. “I look forward to learning more about how I can assist in advancing Indigenous students’ needs.”
Baptiste’s formal experiences will involve overseeing current initiatives ongoing at the Centre and looking for opportunities to develop more.
“I think as a Director, my job is to provide overall guidance and strategic planning to advance the needs of the Indigenous staff and students at Four Directions,” she wrote. “My formal responsibilities include working with the staff at Four Directions to manage the programming that we’re offering to Indigenous students who access the space. As well as oversee the community outreach and youth engagement programming we offer.”
Baptiste added she hopes to engage with campus partners to “build strong connections between [the Centre] and departments on campus.” Her responsibilities will also include overseeing ongoing expansion and renovations of Four Directions while continuing regular functioning and programming.
“The chance to expand the physical space that Indigenous students can access is important, as I heard from many of the staff and students there that it was feeling a bit cramped,” she said. “From what I understand, student’s needs are the primary consideration in the planning and the construction of the space, most of which will happen in the summer months.”
Baptiste sports an extensive resume of experience within the field of Indigenous student affairs management. Her latest position at Wilfred Laurier University required management of the Indigenous Student Centre and staff at the Brantford campus.
Laurier was also the place where Baptiste began her professional career following the completion of her Bachelor of Arts in History there in 2011. She served as the institution’s first Indigenous student recruiting officer.
She was also recently involved in the Future Further Aboriginal Student Resource Portal — a project conducted by the Council of Ontario Universities that delivers resources to Indigenous students through an online database, including financial aid, student services and counselling.
Born and raised in Tyendinaga, a small township an hour outside of Kingston, Baptiste looks forward to returning close to home while engaging with a new university community.
“I am humbled and excited to be working on my own territory and joining the Queen’s community,” she wrote. “As someone who comes from Tyendinaga, I look forward to the ability to connect and engage with the folks in my community, and other Indigenous communities, that are doing exciting work.”
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