Students Consider and Reflect on the Legacy of Champlain
An Indigenous student Champlain Committee member's perspective
The Champlain Committee hosted “Who was this Samuel de Champlain Guy Anyway?” a student-led review and debate on the legacy of Samuel de Champlain on Wednesday, March 2.
Read on for a student perspective from Gracie Crafts (Peter Gzowski College), a fourth-year Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences student, who is a member of the Champlain Committee.
Reflecting on legacy
At the end of 2021, Trent University pulled together a committee to address the legacy of Samuel de Champlain and his namesake at Trent University.
The committee has been tasked to investigate and consider all information about Champlain to make a final report to the University’s president about how to move forward. With reconciliation and the recent news throughout the summer of 2021 in mind, consultation with surrounding First Nations and Indigenous communities as well as including Indigenous knowledge in the committee’s decision making is necessary.
My representation on the committee
I am sitting on the committee also as an Indigenous (Anishinaabe) student representative and as a part of the Trent University Native Association (TUNA).
As an Anishinaabe student, I feel that being on this committee is important. Guidance from elders, chiefs, and knowledge keepers is always a priority in my mind. A student perspective is invaluable in all issues happening at Trent University because current students will be the ones that are affected the most by any changes.
This issue can also be considered an Indigenous issue as Champlain is considered a colonizer and caused harm among many First Nations. However, he did play a crucial role in Canadian history.
Importance in a name
We are seeing the change of, and inquiry into, names at colleges and universities across North America. I feel that, with the pandemic, students are aware of and talking more about current issues and acknowledging changes they would like to see. The name, artwork, and figure of Samuel de Champlain has been a topic of conversation among Trent University students. I think this conversation has been a long time coming, but we as a Trent community, and even as Canadians, have to be ready to tackle it.
Whatever the final report is from the committee, my hope is that students are aware of the namesakes of buildings and the history at Trent University. I think it is important to be educated about the names you may say every day you are on campus and be able to form your own opinions. With reconciliation in mind, I wish for the continued involvement of Indigenous students, communities, elders and knowledge keepers to be included in all decisions surrounding issues and possible changes at Trent University.
An opportunity to participate
On Wednesday, March 2, the committee hosted a student-led review and debate of select scholarly works that address the legacy of Samuel de Champlain. We would love to see more students getting involved. Visit the Champlain Committee website to learn more about Champlain and the process the committee is working through. You can also share your thoughts.
- Gracie Crafts