Queen’s Native Student Association hosts Annual Indigenous Awareness Week

This year’s focus is on exploring Indigenous Identities

Indigenous Awareness Week whiteboard campaign.
Credit: 
Supplied by QNSA

Every year, Indigenous Awareness Week (IAW) is one of the main endeavours taken on by the Queen’s Native Student Association (QNSA). With daily events planned by QNSA, this year’s theme is “exploring Indigenous identities.” 

Runing from Mar. 12 to 16, this year’s IAW is aimed at facilitating education about the history of Indigenous peoples. The week was kicked off with a white board campaign and poetry slam on Monday. On Tuesday, organizers hosted a Mass Kiaros blanket exercise and film screening of “Angry Inuk.” 

Used as a way to interactively teach the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, Tuesday’s blanket exercise is an event often hosted by QNSA. 

The exercise begins with participants standing on their own individual blankets, used to represent Canadian land. 

Participants are also given cut-outs, which are used to represent children. As the exercise unfolds, the history of Canadian Indigenous groups is explored with participants.

The exercise continues with the introduction of Indigenous peoples and European settlers. The activity was followed continued with depictions of treaty-making between the two groups and the subsequent discarding of these agreements by the Europeans. 

This continues with a representation of the diseases spread by the immigrants to Indigenous communities and discriminatory laws used to restrict Indigenous peoples. Finally, the exercise covers the forced relocation of communities and residential schools.

Darian Doblej, a Head of QNSA’s Organizing Committee, told The Journal he believes the week has gained more visibility and student participation over the years. 

“Regular students that are engaged with us have increased every year exponentially, which shows that there is a growing number of students that really care about reconciliation,” said Doblej.

Doblej also explained the importance of having both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students participate in the awareness week. He said one of QNSA’s goals is to bring about more awareness to Indigenous issues and change to reconciliation in Canada.

“For reconciliation to really take hold, we need critical mass. We need 100 per cent of Canadians,” Doblej explained.

Doblej said the ultimate purpose of IAW is to open a dialogue among all students in order to promote the history, culture and contributions of Indigenous peoples. 

“It’s okay to have questions,” Doblej said. He continued, “just ask them.”

To close out the week, Thursday featured a reception with Indigenous models Ellyn Jade and Siera Bearchell. The week culminates on Friday, with a reception following a town hall hosted by Clement Chartier, President of the Métis National Council.

 

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