It is on behalf of the team at First Peoples’ House team that I extend warm greetings and wish to share key highlights of our year serving First Nations, Inuit, and Metis students at McGill. First Peoples’ House is a student service center offering academic support, cultural activities, and community-building opportunities- our center feels like a home away from home. Our team includes myself, Thomasina Phillips (Associate Director - Indigenous Student Success), Marlowe Dubois (Indigenous Student Advisor) and Dana-Marie Williams (Administrative Coordinator). Joining us for the 2022-2023 year is Giana Viel, an Intern from the School of Social Work. We coordinate services that have positive impacts on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual domains of students’ lives.
The key highlights of our year include the hiring of our Student Advisor, Marlowe, in February 2022. He assists students in navigating the institution and network of services, plans and carries out student activities, and serves as the chef of our Soup and Bannock lunches every Wednesday throughout the semester. We also welcomed Giana Veil, who offers psychosocial support to Indigenous students and assists with special projects, including an ongoing needs assessment. With these two roles filled, we were back to full capacity for the Fall semester.
Our Fall began as it always begins, with a flurry of tours, tabling events, welcoming and orientation activities, and the McGill University First Peoples’ House 21st Annual Pow-Wow. At our Fall opening event, the Indigenous Student Welcome Ceremony, we were joined by Kanienke’ha:ka Elders Mike Standup, Amelia McGregor, and Joe McGregor who offered words of encouragement for the road ahead, and recognition of students’ strengths.
This year, attendance at the 21st Annual McGill University First Peoples’ House Pow-Wow surpassed previous years. We invited approximately 50 vendors and 50 dancers and drummers from the Montreal and Ottawa urban Indigenous community and nearby reserve communities, including Kahnawá:ke, Akwesasne, and Kanesatake. It was a day filled with sharing, pride, and celebration centering around First Nations, Inuit, and Metis traditions and cultures.
Throughout October, November, and December, we offered regular programming based around academic, cultural, and community-building needs including:
- Regular visits from the Elders-in Residence Geraldine Standup and Michael Standup
- Access to weekly appointments with writing and library research specialists
- Weekly soup and bannock
- Bowling, apple picking, a movie trip, paint night in collaboration with ISCEI, skating, and a trip to ImagiNative in Toronto
- Graduate student networking event
- Indigenous Graduation Ceremony (online) celebrating student successes, in collaboration with the School of Continuing Studies and the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education
- Hand-drum making with Elaine Kishtabish, and weekly beadwork sessions with Rebekah Elkerton
With the end of classes, First Peoples’ House hosted a holiday dinner for students on December 5th, providing a hearty meal and gift bags to boost morale heading into exam season (don’t worry- we still have exam de-stress activities planned for December).
As our 2022 cycle comes to a close, ready to begin anew in 2023, we look forward to sharing with you the evolution of our services, activities, and student successes in the coming semesters.
With warm regards,