Global Development Studies students host Indigenous Expo

How DEVS 221 went beyond simple land acknowledgements

The Expo took place on Saturday.
Jodie Grieve

On Saturday, Global Development Studies (DEVS) students hosted the first ever Indigenous Exposition.

The event was hosted by the DEVS 221 class in collaboration with Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre and the extended Queen’s community. With over 100 visual posters set up in Wallace Hall, the event included a variety of attendants from students to Kingston City Council members.

The course covers issues regarding Indigeneity and is run by Professor Michael Doxtater.

There were over 35 exhibits on a variety of topics concerning Indigenous issues and state relations. These topics range from environmental activism, healing and wellness, food security, water sanitation, and access to clean water in communities and on reserve. The event was sponsored by the Tea Room and catered by Terri Ward.

Event coordinators Brooke Dewhurst and Angela Sahi, both ArtSci ’21, expressed the importance of not only raising awareness on the issues, but also “moving forward” with the problems that are presented.

“The research presented of our classmates within DEVS 221 provided a space for discussion, collaboration, and transformation, where principles of the class were integrated with our own analyses and ideas,” Dewhurst told The Journal.

“This event forced guests to interrogate themselves and recognize their complicity in past, current, and ongoing practices of settler colonialism,” Sahi added. “Most importantly, the exhibits highlighted movements of Indigenous resistance, resilience, and resurgence.”

During the opening ceremony, Tim Yearington and class professor Doxtater gave feature stories and songs of Anishnabek origin.

Other students from the class also expressed similar sentiments.

Mikayla Quast and Phaedra Leonard, both ArtSci ’21, presented the topic of POWWOW. As one of the many issues that were presented at the exposition, their booth emphasized how appropriating traditional dances desensitizes the culture through displayed videos. 

“I think that [the indigenous issues] are so skipped over in history, culture, and every topic that’s taught in school,” Leonard said. She expressed the importance of an event specifically focused on Indigenous issues, especially on Queen’s campus.

The two elaborated that repeating land acknowledgements before every formal announcement isn’t enough. Instead, organizers said it leaves people becoming desensitized to the actual issue.

For Dewhurst, the principles of the course itself—“Everyone gets to eat, everyone gets to be healed and everyone gets to be happy”—were at the forefront of the event. She believes it was a success and looks forward to future events alongside Professor Doxtater.

“The class-wide event proved the importance of collective learning, and Professor Michael Doxtater’s dedication to creative and engaging coursework sets an example for the Queen's community to follow,” Sahi said.

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