During National Indigenous History Month, Trent University Durham GTA is pleased to announce the enhancement of its Indigenous student spaces and supports – including a larger and more modern tipi, and improved furnishings for the Indigenous Student Space – thanks to a gift from past Board chair, Anne Wright.
Wright, who served as Board chair when the dedicated campus on Thornton Road was being developed, says she was inspired to support Indigenous spaces to continue Trent’s leadership in Indigenous education and to honour her Indigenous granddaughter.
“In addition to my family connection and my desire to support Indigenous students, I do feel that Indigenous programming is incredibly meaningful as it fulfils a huge need in this country of better understanding our history and addressing historical wrongs,” Wright says. “Trent University is at the forefront of Indigenous Studies and I’m so proud to be a part of that.”
The new 30-foot tipi, to be erected this fall, is expected to include permanent stone benches and a permanent firepit. The updated Indigenous Student Space – an on-campus room that has proper ventilation and provides a unique opportunity for Indigenous students to gather, study and perform smudging ceremonies – will include more modern and functional furniture in the colours of the medicine wheel as well as more homelike decor such as soft blankets and lamps.
Bobbie-Ann McCulloch ’19, Trent Durham Indigenous student and community engagement assistant, says she understands the need for these types of Indigenous spaces because when she first arrived as a student at Trent Durham she felt almost no connection to her heritage as a mixed settler with Indigenous ancestry from Chapleau Cree First Nation. After attending social fires and other gatherings at the Trent Durham tipi, she developed a close Indigenous community and strong sense of belonging as the tipi became an increasingly important space for her culturally and emotionally.
"We thank Ms. Wright for this momentous gift that will help ensure Indigenous students become a part of the community and learn more about their heritage as they use the tipi for social fires, ceremonies, Elder teachings, and connecting with traditional medicines. Non-Indigenous students will also benefit from this opportunity to learn more and build relationships by being able to attend social fires and have classroom visits to the tipi," says McCulloch. “The tipi and Indigenous Student Space are important on a practical level but also offer a visual representation of belonging.”
Trent Durham has been consistently enhancing and adding Indigenous supports, events, and recognition over the years including adding an Ishkodehwin peer mentor, hosting a day of the annual Elders & Traditional Peoples Gathering, and hanging an Anishinabek Nation flag in the atrium.
“This very generous gift will help us continue to ensure that everyone who walks on this campus feels that they belong,” says Jenifer Richardson, director Student Affairs at Trent Durham. Learn more about supporting Trent University to celebrate and respect Indigenous Knowledge, cultures, languages, and lands.
Learn more about supporting Trent University to celebrate and respect Indigenous Knowledge, cultures, languages, and lands.