Breaking Down Stereotypes
First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL) supports Indigenous students as they navigate their experiences here at Trent University. We believe in supporting the whole human being, emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. This is part of what makes us different at FPHL. Here at the Enwaayang Building, the community has worked hard to ensure there is a wide representation of Indigenous Elders, traditional teachers, students and a variety of Indigenous art.
Often, Indigenous students are struggling with the on-going impacts of colonization and historical trauma. Students are often struggling with their identity, working at reclaiming their identity, or may even be in the process of learning who they are as Indigenous peoples. They are also learning what it means to be a learner at a University, where there is often little Indigenous representation.
Throughout the years, we have heard from our students, the hurtful and often racist remarks they hear. Comments such as, “you don’t look like an Indian” or “let’s ask her/him, they are native”, thinking Indigenous students are experts on all things native, or “are you sure you are Aboriginal” and the list goes on.
We have been working to change these perceptions. To this end, we have been exploring how to counter these messages. It took some time to find enough financing to create this photo series, which we named “Breaking Down Stereotypes”. It was time to have Indigenous students speak the truth about their experiences. We reached out to Indigenous students across Trent University and asked them to volunteer to be part of a Poster series that would look at breaking down the stereotypes they were facing. We felt that this would also eliminate some of the barriers that our Indigenous students face on a daily basis. We had the students choose which stereotype they wanted to speak too and then we countered the stereotype through photo messaging. Our Poster series, “Breaking Down
Stereotypes”, was launched at the Elders Gathering this year. It received amazing acknowledgment.
We are so excited to bring this poster series to life. This poster series was designed to make the university journey easier for all Indigenous students.
This series would not have been possible without the generous support of the Campus Safety Grant (Trent University) alongside First Peoples House of Learning’s commitment to ensuring this would happen. We are working at creating safety for Indigenous students here on campus.
We want to acknowledge our courageous students who chose to engage in our poster series. We send so much gratitude to them.
We want to again, acknowledge the Campus Safety Grant located at Trent University for their generous support.
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge our photographer extraordinaire, Annie Sakkab. Her willingness to support us (FPHL) in bringing this project to life has been so incredible. Her compassion and encouragement helped the students navigate their experiences as they engaged with expressing the stereotypes that they each chose. Our gratitude for the amazing photos as well as the design and creation of our posters.
We are proud of this project. Please see photo series below that highlight the fifteen amazing courageous Indigenous students who participated in project