TIMMINS, ON: Northern College has broken ground to celebrate the richness of Aboriginal culture. The construction of a permanent, 700-square foot tipi has begun and is scheduled to be complete late-fall of this year. The tipi will be accessible to Northern College learners, partners, clients, and all those with an interest in learning more about the cultural values and traditions of Aboriginal peoples.
The construction of the tipi was officially marked on June 08, 2012 with a traditional sunrise ceremonial blessing of the ground to acknowledge the original inhabitants of the land and ask for their blessing for the continued success of the activities conducted upon it. Grandmother Roberta Oshkawbewisens – White Buffalo Calf Woman of the Bear Clan and Grandfather David Faries – a Moose Cree First Nation Elder, facilitated the ceremony, explaining the significance of ground blessing. A smudging and tipi teachings followed.
Designed in the likeness of a traditional tipi, the permanent structure will be located on the south side of the campus, facing Porcupine Lake. It will be temperature controlled, ventilated, and connected to the college to enable year-round use. This new venue will comfortably accommodate up to 30 people and will meet the needs of cultural, community, and educational activities. The tipi will provide a warm and inviting environment for gathering, sharing, healing and learning.
“Members of the Northern College Aboriginal Council on Education, as well as elders and grandmothers from the region collaborated with the college and provided input to establish a culturally appropriate learning environment,” says Micheal Miller, Chair of the Northern College Aboriginal Council on Education. “It is a place where both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, faculty, and communities can come together and learn from one another to build a more culturally vibrant and highly-skilled Northeastern Ontario.”
Stemming from Northern College’s 2010-2013 Strategic Operating Plan, this initiative complements the significant milestones the college has reached through the Aboriginal Focus; one of five pillars on which the college’s Strategic Operating Plan is built upon.
“By drawing upon the wisdom of Aboriginal peoples, we are living out our pledge to respond to the needs, choices and directions of Aboriginal peoples and their communities. We are dedicated to creating and sustaining a respectful, inclusive, accessible, and culturally sensitive environment by carrying out our responsibility to enhance awareness and understanding, encourage and nurture partnerships with First Nations and facilitate the continued success of Aboriginal students,” says Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College.
Northern College’s 2010-2013 Strategic Operating Plan and the 2011-2012 Annual Report outline the objectives that guide the college’s efforts and provide information on initiatives the college has undertaken to carry out our mission to ensure quality, accessible education through innovative programs, services, and partnerships for the benefit of our northern communities. These documents are available at www.northernc.on.ca/documents.