Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the front atrium of Trent University Oshawa on Wednesday, November 20 to participate in an Indigenous culture celebration, a first for the Thornton Road Campus community.
With the audience seated in a circle, Elder Harold Ashkewe, a member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, gave a traditional greeting, speaking first in his native language. “Sitting in a circle is very important to our celebration,” he noted during his welcome remarks. “We are all on the same level, no one is above another and we can look at one another eye to eye. This is very important in our tradition.”
Elder Ashkewe went on to describe many of the First Nation teachings and beliefs, before taking his place in the circle, amongst the rest of the captivated audience.
Trent Oshawa’s Dr. Sara Humphreys, who co-organized the celebration, then introduced Ms. Jamie Kozlinsky, who spoke on behalf of the Debwawin Singers, also of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. Offering a brief history of Oshawa, Ms. Kozlinsky explained that the Mississaugas were the first inhabitants of the land that is now called Oshawa and that the literal translation of the City’s name is “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.” Ms. Kozlinsky concluded by regaling the audience with traditional Indigenous song.
All Our Relations, a group of women from the Durham area, ended the afternoon’s celebration with a drum circle. The All Our Relations Métis Drum Circle was formed by the women of the Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council community in 2008. Since then, their numbers have grown to include other women who feel the same calling of the drum. They practice weekly and perform at various Métis events, Big Drum Socials in Durham Region, and other school board and community events celebrating Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
For more information regarding Trent University Oshawa Indigenous students and studies, visit: http://www.trentu.ca/oshawa/indigenous-students