Trent University today announced the University’s sixth college will be named Gidigaa Migizi College, in celebration and memory of the late Gidigaa Migizi (Doug Williams) ’69, professor, elder, and community leader renowned for his dedication to Trent students, and to protecting Anishnaabeg treaty rights.
Housed in world-class architecture and known for their memorable sense of community and time-honoured traditions, colleges are at the core of the Trent student experience. Modelled on the collegiate model found at universities throughout the world, Trent University is home to five colleges: Champlain, Lady Eaton, Peter Gzowski, Otonabee, and Catharine Parr Traill. These scholarly communities comprise student residences, dining halls, and academic and administrative spaces.
“Trent’s colleges have been at the centre of the student experience for 60 years, steeped in history and tradition. This naming is a testament to Trent’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and celebrating Indigenous culture and heritage,” said Marilyn Burns, vice president of Communications & Enrolment at Trent. “Gidigaa Migizi, a respected elder and a pillar in the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg and Trent communities, has left a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire and educate our students for generations to come. Gidigaa Migizi College will stand as a beacon of knowledge, diversity, and respect, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and learning that is at the heart of Trent University."
The decision to select an Anishnaabe name for the new college was a recommendation of the University’s Champlain Report to honour the treaty and traditional territory on which Trent University sits. Meaning spotted eagle in English, the name Gidigaa Migizi College was recommended by the University’s Elders & Traditional Knowledge Keepers Council and approved by Trent’s Board of Governors.
“Gidigaa Migizi was a giant both at Trent and in the Anishnaabeg Nation. He was a champion of knowledge, of learning, of students and of our community,” said Anne Taylor, Elders Council member from Curve Lake First Nation. “In our culture, eagles are held in high esteem and symbolize honour, respect, strength, courage, and wisdom. These are all characteristics we want Trent students to embody.”
One of the first graduates of Trent University’s Native Studies (now Indigenous Studies) program, Gidigaa Migizi remained deeply involved with the University throughout his lifetime, helping to shape academic programs, administrative policies, cultural practices, and advance education about Indigenous peoples. He was co-director of the Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program and a professor within the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent. He also served on the University’s Indigenous Education Committee and the Elders Council. Through this work, he helped bridge two different world views, bringing Indigenous Knowledge into the academy through land-based teachings, oral traditions, and stories of growing up in Curve Lake. Prior to joining Trent as a student and then as a faculty member, Gidigaa Migizi was a bricklayer who helped build Champlain College at the University.
A champion of the Anishnaabeg nation from the Michi Saagiig community of Curve Lake First Nation, Gidigaa Migizi was an active negotiator for legal recognition of treaty rights. His greatest accomplishment in this arena was the advocacy work he undertook in the precedent setting case R v. Taylor and Williams, working through the court system to bring legal recognition of pre-confederation treaty rights through the interpretation of Treaty 20, 1818. As a result of this landmark case, he defended the right to hunt and fish for signatories to the Williams Treaties. The impact of this settlement is immeasurable.
The Gidigaa Migizi College name will help inform the design of the spaces and iconography of Trent’s sixth residential college to be built on the east bank of the Symons Campus in Peterborough. The building will include as many as 700 new beds for first-year students as well as classrooms, faculty offices, and student spaces. With an anticipated opening of fall 2028, Trent’s newest college will be an architecturally significant building, purposefully constructed to promote learning, embrace diversity, and foster meaningful connections between students, staff, and faculty. The new college crest, scarf and colours will be unveiled in 2024.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
For more information contact:
Olivia Flynn, Communications & Media Relations Officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6180 or firstname.lastname@example.org