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Durham Greater Toronto Area

Students outside Durham building

Durham Greater Toronto Area

Knowledge Keeper Chad Shaawano Uran Visits Trent University Durham GTA

Indigenous knowledge helps students expand their worldview

Visiting Elders and Knowledge Keepers are an important component of Indigenous teachings on campus. On Thursday, February 15, Knowledge Keeper Chad Shaawano Uran was on campus at Trent University Durham GTA to present to classes and do a session of teachings in the Tipi.

“When we have Elders and Knowledge Keepers visit campus, it creates opportunities to enrich the student experience,” explained cultural counsellor, Stephanie Nelson. “The invited guests share alternative worldviews, to what many students have previously been exposed to, which contributes to their personal growth and evolves their understanding of, and engagement with, their world.”

Typically, a visiting Elder or Knowledge Keeper will spend some time in the Tipi on campus, speaking to those attending about life experiences and traditional knowledge. On Thursday, the Tipi fire was lit and maintained by fire keepers, Jeff Fernandes and Lindsay Gammon, while Traditional Medicines, like sage, was burned for spiritual cleansing.

Knowledge Keeper Chad Shaawano Uran explained the importance of “Endayaang” - -translated as -our acknowledgement of the land we are occupying, a place for Indigenous students to gather and feel at home, and a place to welcome all other students home/back to themselves. It is about recognizing that we are a community. Trent University Durham’s Endayaang is the Tipi. Part of the Tipi experience is the twice-weekly fires that take place.

Listening to a teaching from a visiting Elder or Knowledge Keeper at the Tipi fire, “is a great space in which to create community and generate dialogue among peers,” said Ms. Nelson.

Posted on February 21, 2018