Canoeing, hiking, academic discourse, and reconnecting with nature - all a big part of Trent University’s annual Temagami Colloquium. Over the weekend, over 43 participants bussed to Camp Wanapitei in Temagami, ON where students, staff, faculty, and alumni were able to explore, engage and learn in the great outdoors.
The colloquium, which celebrates interdisciplinary and experiential learning, is organized by the Colleges at Trent, and seeks to examine participants’ understanding of the land, with a focus on the study and exploration of Canadian, environmental, and Indigenous issues. Students were able to attend this year’s event at a subsidized rate thanks to the support of campus departments, First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL), Trent International, and the Bruce and Carol Hodgins Fund.
“These weekends are such an important time for students to get out on the land and explore some of the meaningful ways they can connect with nature and our larger community,” says Dr. Melanie Buddle, principal of Peter Gzowski College and co-organizer of this year’s colloquium. “For many, this is a first introduction to the beautiful Temagami landscape. This 50-year-old tradition is also a testament to the Canadian Studies program at Trent and the relationships the program has nurtured over many decades.”
In addition to having a chance to paddle and hike in the Temagami region, participants at the 50th Trent Temagami Colloquium had the chance to interact with Dr. Stephen Hill, director of the Trent School of the Environment, as well as faculty and community leaders.
“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the Elders of Temagami (Marvyn, Mary, and Wayne) for their love and care in communicating their cultural heritage as well as the history of the land,” says Brandon, a first year Otonabee College student in the Computer Science program who attended the weekend for the first time. “I know I left changed and am already anticipating next year's trip.”
A year dedicated in memory of the Hodgins and Dr. Gary Potts
This year’s event was held as a celebration of the anniversary and in memory of Professor Emeritus Bruce Hodgins, his wife Carol, and Dr. Gary Potts, former Chief of Temagami First Nation and Teme-Augama Anishnabai.
The Hodgins began leading canoe trips in 1957 for Camp Wanapitei on Lake Temagami. Dr. Hodgins became a faculty member in the History Department in 1966 and was part of the development of Canadian Studies at Trent. They co-hosted the annual trip to Temagami for over four decades, helping students, faculty and alumni to begin to share in their love of nature and the land.
Dr. Potts is best known for leading the Red Squirrel Road blockades in 1988 and 1989 in order to help Temagami’s struggle to protect their ancestral lands. His legacy continues to be a strong influence on the programming throughout the weekend as a symbol of perseverance and love for the land.
“It was an honour to help Celebrate 50 years of the unique relationship between Trent and Temagami,” says Tina Fridgen, principal of Champlain College and co-organizer of this year’s colloquium. “Our long-term relationships between Trent faculty, Alumni, students, community members, Camp Wanapitei staff and Indigenous people from Bear Island (the Teme-Augama Anishnabai) were celebrated and new relationships were formed. We have a responsibility to continue to nourish this relationship of mutual respect, collaboration and reciprocity between cultures which will seed future relationships and sustainable solutions for generations to come.”
"I was especially delighted to have Professor Emeritus John Wadland join this year’s event to share his experiences organizing the weekend for over thirty years," says Professor Hill. "I want to especially highlight the work of the Colleges in organizing and re-vitalizing this amazing Trent event after a hiatus during the pandemic.”
In the context of the 50th anniversary of Canadian Studies at Trent
Learning on the land has persisted through the 50-year history of Canadian Studies at Trent, and this trip provides a useful point of self-reflection for students in an era of reconciliation. How do they relate to Temagami as a territory? How did students and faculty on trips past view the land and their relationship to it? This sort of exploration of Canadian lands—its history and our obligations to it—is essential to the present and future of Canadian Studies at Trent.