Brock University made a conscious effort to strengthen its bonds with Indigenous communities on Manitoulin Island this past Wednesday through hosting an event for over 100 students at the M’Chigeeng Community Complex on options for post-secondary education. The event, aimed at highlighting the partnership between Brock and Weengushk Film Institute, was called Weh Weh Neh, the translation from Cree being “Doing Things Right.”
The students that attended the event, ranging from grade eight through high school, were given the opportunity to learn about future paths as a way to help further a sense of connection and support, placing emphasis on equal access within the institution.
The event consisted of a traditional Anishinaabe opening with elders from the community, followed by an info session on Brock’s Aboriginal Student Services as well as university programs available and OSAP applications/info. Additionally, students were able to listen to Indigenous Brock alumni who shared their own experiences at Brock.
These types of programs and events help allow Brock to show the different services available for Indigenous youth, as well as different supports available to them.
“We want to show students there are people from their community who have attended Brock and been successful in their journey,” said Sandra Wong, Brock’s Aboriginal Academic Support Program Coordinator, in a press release. “We want to introduce them to potential role models. We want them to take pride in the fact that someone from their community, Shirley Cheechoo, is our University Chancellor.”
The event also highlighted the partnership between Brock University and the Weengushk Film Institute, a partnership that had been formed back in September 2016. Brock offers a film program, taught at Weengushk Film Institute, which involves an eight-month program that will give students a certificate in film production. The program itself, taught by industry professionals, gives hands-on training in fields like screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, editing, composing, marketing etc. Students also get the opportunity to work towards creating their own short film during the program.
Weengushk Film Institute, founded by CheeChoo back in 2002, is a centre for building media arts for indigenous youth and persons of diversity. CheeChoo herself is an award-winning film director.
Brock intends to run the event at Manitoulin Island annually to continue providing students with updated information on programs available as well as furthering the connection with indigenous communities. It is a conscious step towards further indigenizing Brock.
In addition to Brock’s strengthening its bond with indigenous communities, the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, Aboriginal Student Services, and Brock OPIRG hosted The REDress Project on Thursday March 8 to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The art installation, hosted on International Women’s Day as a way of adding further emphasis to the topic of women and intersectionality, involved hanging donated pieces of red clothing on trees at Brock’s main campus.
The idea behind the project is a dedication to, an awareness building around and an aesthetic response to the more than 1000 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. The object is to collect these red dressed from community members to be installed in public places as a visual reminder of all the women who are no longer with us.
For many, the image of the dresses were a sobering reminder that the numbers are more than just a statistic.