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Dawson College embraces Onkwehón:we culture

Dawson College invited guests from Kahnawake to share their knowledge and experience for First People’s Week at the Montreal CEGEP. The week kicked off with a powwow in the school’s atrium. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

The month of April isn’t only a single day to play simple pranks on your pals at Dawson College – there’s a week dedicated to the First Peoples.

The CEGEP’s First People’s Week is jam-packed with culture workshops and guest speakers who join the college for a bit of insightfulness.

Dawson College is loud and proud when it comes to showing how culturally-diverse the student demographic is through the many different events and activities that are hosted by employees and the student body.

The First Peoples Centre coordinator Tiawentinon Canadian is on her second year with the FPC and loves making an impact on the Indigenous presence in Dawson College.

“I think that it’s important to have Indigenous representation throughout the college so that we’re not just relegated to the First Peoples’ Centre,” said Canadian.

“It is an opportunity for everyone to experience Indigenous food, art, culture, and songs and to hear Indigenous Peoples speak about issues that are important to all of us.”

Dawson’s First People’s Week gave students the opportunity to embrace traditional arts, crafts and practices of the region’s Indigenous cultures. (Kahenientha Cross, The Eastern Door)

From April 1 to April 5,the First Peoples Centre took over hosting duties with traditional catered lunches and many different skill workshops that include beading, seal-skin sewing, basket making and local jewellery vendors.

With all the exciting activities and events going on for FPW, Canadian can’t answer the question of what her favourite event is.

“I can’t choose a favourite event because they’re all so amazing,” she said.

“I love working closely with my friends and my students and being able to work on something we can share with the student body of Dawson College.”

Speakers included Kanien’kehà:ka elder Tom Porter, Metis artist Moe Clarke, Dr. Wesley Côté (Anishnabe) to present on Indigenous perseverance.

The First People’s Center organized an opening ceremony to lead the week into a successful and educational experience for the school.

“I got to see a childhood friend dance with his two boys and it was really nice to see,” said Canadian.

All events were open for teachers to take their classes to participate in the activities and experience the guest speakers storytelling.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the panel by Tom Porter and his gang, Donovan Thompson, River McComber and Tioniatarishon Jacobs,” said Canadian.

“I had a great experience!” said Canadian. “It is so cool to be able to look around as your event is taking place, and see people enjoying themselves.”

Dawson’s annual weeklong event is an example of how the CEGEP has worked to indigenize its campus. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

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