Kahnawa’kehró:non Orenda Boucher-Curotte was hired as the new coordinator for Concordia University’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre. (Courtesy Orenda Boucher-Curotte)
With the start of the fall semester just around the corner, Concordia University will have a familiar face coordinating its Aboriginal Student Resource Centre.
Kahnawa’kehró:non Orenda Boucher-Curotte was hired for the position, which oversees on-campus resources, services, and activities for around 200 First Nations, Metis and Inuit students.
“It’s a crucial role in the institution. In post-secondary, there’s the academic work that happens in classrooms, but that is only as good as the support around it for all students and particularly for Indigenous students,” said Andrew Woodall, dean of students.
Boucher-Curotte left her position as coordinator of Dawson College’s new First Peoples Centre to take on the new role.
“I really loved my time at Dawson. Student success really matters to me. It matters in my classroom, so to take that on in an administrative role was really important,” she said.
“When I decided to come over to Concordia, I wanted to take a lot of the things I learned in that position, I wanted to bring them here. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to do bigger things. Colleges, you can only do so much. There’s only so much funding you get and they’re much smaller institutions.”
Boucher-Curotte’s experience at Dawson is one of the reasons she was an ideal candidate for the position.
“What stood out was the fact that she founded the Dawson’s First Peoples Centre and made it into something that is now institutionalized in a really short time,” said Woodall.
Woodall said her academic background as Concordia alum and familiarity with many of the current students also played a part.
“She’s been through Concordia and through the centre and has an academic component in doing a PhD; not only is it a great role model it’s also an experience through the levels of academia. Those were the four things that made this a no-brainer for us,” he said.
Boucher-Curotte completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university. She said she spent a lot of her time at the centre during those seven years as a student.
“When I was a student here, I utilized almost all of the resources we had. I was a single mom trying to take care of two kids and they were pretty young when I started here. I used a lot of the resources at the university, but specifically the centre,” said Boucher-Curotte.
“The chance to come back here now and coordinate the centre was an amazing opportunity for me. It’s great because I know how important it is. It’s exciting too because my predecessor created all these amazing things and now I get to continue those and add my own stuff now.”
Boucher-Curotte said in the upcoming academic year, she hopes to increase support resources for Indigenous graduate students, as well as more inter-institutional collaboration.
“The thing about academia is that it often can be very isolating, especially the further you go along, you tend to get stuck doing your research, writing your papers and forget to take care of yourself,” she said.
“So, that’s where I think community members become really important. They remind you to eat, sleep, take a little bit of time to refuel yourself.
“I think it’s important to bring in that cultural aspect too because that’s what makes this centre really special is that sense of community that gets built between the students.”