Featured: Indigenous Awareness Weeks 2023

Indigenous Awareness Weeks (IAW) is a two-week-long event series involving Indigenous academics, artists, and community members. Events held over these two weeks encourage a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples among students, staff, and faculty at McGill. They also help foster a dialogue about First Nations, Métis and Inuit topics important to individuals and their communities. The events, outlined below, create a space that bring together Indigenous experts, community leaders, students, faculty, and staff throughout our campus community. 

This year's IAW art was designed by Anishnawbe, Oji-Cree, and Two-Spirit artist NiibinDesigns.

McGill Annual 2023 Indigenous Awareness Weeks Poster

In September 2023, McGill's Office of Indigenous Intiatives hosted the annual Indigenous Awareness Weeks from 2023 in collaboration with many faculties and units across the university. You can view the full event program, and view our photos from the event series (coming soon). 

Past Projects and Events

Bicentennial at McGill

The Indigenous Initiatives unit is proud to be participating in McGill's Bicentennial celebrations. The unit has been working on a series of events, videos, and collaborations highlighting McGill's Indigenous community, and fostering partnerships with Indigenous communities beyond campus. With this programming we are committed to celebrating Indigenous resilience and excellence: past, present and future.

Featured Event Series: Ajuinnata at McGill

From September 8–October 25, 2022, McGill University hosted an Inuit-focused event series , showcasing Inuit excellence and achievement in a variety of fields.

The event series is named Ajuinnata at McGill. Ajuinnata, in Inuktitut, means to never give up and to commit oneself to action, no matter how difficult the cause may be. In choosing this name, we seek to recognize the Inuit studying, researching, teaching, and working in the McGill community, who champion ajuinnata and help move McGill forward. We also seek to highlight our university’s project of recognition and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, outlined in the final report of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education.

The series featured presentations by Inuit political leaders (Pita Aatami, Lisa Koperqualuk, Natan Obed), health and wellness experts (Richard Budgell, Minnie Grey), climate change activists (Sheila Watt-Cloutier), artists (asinnajaq, Pasha Partridge), curators (Krista Ulujuk Zawadski), and more. Its aim is to facilitate a range of opportunities for the McGill community—and the Montreal community at large—to learn from and engage with Inuit leaders, scholars, artists, and their work.

The series also included the installation of the “Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Art, Architecture, and Traditional Knowledge” exhibition on our downtown campus, as well as a complementary Inuit art installation by the McGill Visual Arts Collection called Takunnanguaqtangit. Both exhibitions were installed at the Macdonald-Harrington Building, or the School of Architecture, and are able to be viewed from Monday-Friday during regular business hours.

The Ajuinnata at McGill series was the first of its kind at our university. It has been made possible by the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) and the Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative (ISCEI). The events were free and open to the public. Registration is only required for events where room capacity is limited.

Check out our full event calendar below and our Facebook event for event reminders and updates.

Event Calendar


Thursday, September 8th (6:00-8:00 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium & Exhibition Room

Opening Ceremony & Exhibition Vernissage:

The opening ceremony and exhibition vernissage will be hosted by Professor Celeste Pedri-Spade, McGill’s first Associate Provost (Indigenous Initiatives) and will start with a ceremonial lighting of the qulliq by Inuk elder Reepa Evic-Carleton. This will be followed by remarks from Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi and the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Art, Architecture, and Traditional Knowledge exhibition curator, Isabelle Laurier. During the vernissage, attendees will enjoy hors-d'œuvres prepared by award-winning Inuk chef, Trudy Metcalfe-Coe. The McGill Visual Arts Collection's complementary Inuit art installation, Takunnanguaqtangit, will also be on display.

Wednesday, September 14th (3:30-5:00 p.m.), First Peoples' House

Sealskin crafting workshop with Pasha Partridge (Open to the Indigenous community):

Pasha Partridge is from Kahnawake and Kuujjuaq and grew up in both communities. She is now based in Montreal. Pasha's art involves saving sealskin scraps to ensure all parts of the sealskin are used. She will lead participants in a jewelry/keychain workshop, where participants will use sealskin scraps to create. For more information about Pasha and her work, visit her business' Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 20th (6:00-7:30 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium

Film screening of Three Thousand and Q&A with the director, asinnajaq:

asinnajaq is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer based in Montreal, QC. For her short film Three Thousand (2017), she uses thousands of hours of historical footage from the National Film Board of Canada's archive to reframe the past of Inuit and create a vision for the future. For more information on the film, visit the NFB website.

Thursday, September 22nd (6:00-7:30 p.m.), Moyse Hall Theatre

Roundtable discussion on Inuit self-governance with panelists Pita Aatami (President, Makivik Corporation), Lisa Koperqualuk (President, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada), and Natan Obed (President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami).

The roundtable will explore Inuit self-governance at various levels: regional, national, and international. It will be moderated by Patricia Johnson-Castle (former Director of Policy and Planning, Nunatsiavut Government, and former Coordinator of the Indigenous Studies Program at McGill University).

Watch the recording here.

Monday, September 26th (5:00-7:00 p.m.), First Peoples' House

"Niriqatigiit (Coming Together to Eat)" with Chef Trudy Metcalfe-Coe (Open to the Indigenous community)

Originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut, the Inuit Land Claims region in Northern Labrador, Inuk Chef Trudy Metcalfe-Coe has called Ottawa home for thirty plus years. Trudy started cooking around the age of twelve and takes pleasure in bringing comfort to family, friends and community, through her love of creating tasty dishes from Country Food (food from the Arctic such as caribou, seal, arctic char and musk ox).

Join Chef Trudy as she prepares a meal for the Indigenous community at McGill's First Peoples' House.

Wednesday, September 28th (12:00-1:30 p.m.), University Centre - Shatner Building, Madeleine Parent Room (202)

Inuit games demonstration by ᐋᓪᓚ ᐋᓪᓚ

Born in St. John's, NL, and raised in Ottawa, ON, ᐋᓪᓚ ᐋᓪᓚ (which translates to Stranger in English) has spent more than a decade demonstrating and teaching traditional Inuit games. At this event, ᐋᓪᓚ ᐋᓪᓚ will talk about the history of the games and demonstrate some of his favourites.

Join ᐋᓪᓚ ᐋᓪᓚ on the 2nd Floor of the University Centre (3480 McTavish Street) for this exciting demonstration.

Thursday, September 29th (6:00-8:00 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium

"ᐃᓄᐊ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᖃᐅᒪᔪᖅ (INUA and Qaumajuq): Going Forward Together" with Krista Ulujuk Zawadski (Curator, anthropologist, arts leader, researcher, scholar and writer)

Zawadski, who is originally from Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet) and now calls Rankin Inlet, NU, home, will present a talk on her involvement in INUA and Qaumajuq. INUA is the inaugural exhibition of Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, that brings together the work of over 90 Inuit artists from across Inuit Nunangat and southern centres.


Tuesday, October 4th (6:00-8:00 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium

Zacharias Kunuk Film Festival: An Evening of Inuit Film (Part 1)

Join us for night one of this mini Kunuk film festival, where Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (2010) will be screened.

"Nunavut-based director Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat The Fast Runner) and researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro (Seeds of Change) have teamed up with Inuit communities to document their knowledge and experience regarding climate change. This new documentary, the world’s first Inuktitut language film on the topic, takes the viewer “on the land” with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. This unforgettable film helps us to appreciate Inuit culture and expertise regarding environmental change and indigenous ways of adapting to it" (IsumaTV).

Monday, October 17th (5:30-7:00 p.m.), RVC West Lounge 014 (access via 3425 rue University, Montreal, QC)

A Conversation on Inuit Health and Wellness with Minnie Grey and Richard Budgell

Minnie Grey, who is from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, has helped protect and promote the Inuit way of life for over 30 years. As the former vice-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the chief negotiator for the creation of a Nunavik regional government, she spearheaded and bolstered initiatives that improved education, food security, cultural rights, and economic development across Inuit Nunangat. As the former executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, she established and furthered health policies in Nunavik—notably those addressing youth mental health.

Richard Budgell, a Labrador Inuk, was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill in 2020, where he lectures, writes, and does research on Inuit health. Prior to joining Family Medicine, he was a federal government public servant in First Nations and Inuit health, and other Indigenous fields, for more than thirty years. Has was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for exemplary public service in his role in the creation of the Aboriginal Head Start program, an early childhood development program for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and families. He has a Master of Arts degree in Canadian Studies (Aboriginal concentration) from Carleton University and began doctoral studies in History at McGill in 2021. He is involved in a variety of research projects, including Inuit cultural safety in health care and the Inuit community in southern Quebec.

This event will be driven by discussion questions. All are encouraged to attend, and light refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, October 19th (1:00-2:00 p.m.), Zoom

"Re-imagining a New Way Forward with Intention" with Environmental, Cultural and Human Rights Advocate, Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2007, Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights — especially in the Arctic, where it is felt more immediately, and more dramatically, than anywhere else in the world. Watt-Cloutier is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and the recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, the Norwegian Sophie Prize, the Jack P. Blaney award for Dialogue, and the Right Livelihood Award, which is widely considered the "Nobel Alternative".

From 1995-2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected the Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). She was later elected in 2002 to become the International Chair of the ICC, representing the 155,000 Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia — she held this post until 2006.

We kindly ask that you register in advance for Watt-Cloutier's presentation using this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing the link to join the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, October 20th (6:00-7:30 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium

Zacharias Kunuk Film Festival: An Evening of Inuit Film (Part 2) featuring special guest Lucy Tulugarjuk

Join us for night two of this mini Kunuk film festival, where Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice (2021) will be screened.

In 2021, Angakusajaujuq was named Best Canadian Short at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival. Lucy Tulugarjuk, who plays the Young Shaman in the film and is herself a filmmaker, will be in attendance to offer opening words and lead a Q&A after the screening. Tulugarjuk has been involved in the film industry for over 20 years and made her directorial debut with her film Tia and Piujuq (2017). She is also the Executive Producer for Nunavut Independent Television Network (NITV). You can read more about her here. More on the film:

“A young shaman must face her first test—a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, she must trust her mentor's teachings and learn to control her fear” (IsumaTV).

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, October 25th (5:45-7:45 p.m.), Macdonald-Harrington Building, G-10 Auditorium

Zacharias Kunuk Film Festival: An Evening of Inuit Film (Part 3) featuring special guest Lucy Tulugarjuk

Join us for night three of this mini Kunuk film festival, and for the final Ajuinnata at McGill event, where One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (2019) will be screened. In attendance will be the assistant director of the film, Lucy Tulugarjuk, who joined us for Q&A at our last screening.

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk was named one of Canada’s top ten feature length films in 2019 by TIFF. More on the film:

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk hinges on a pivotal 1961 encounter on spring sea ice between the title character and other community leaders and a government emissary, who has come to ask them to relocate their families to permanent settlements and send their children to school. Kunuk employs approaches he used in the previous films, but there are also elements of cultural comedy in the contrast between pragmatic Inuit and the odd, incomprehensible expectations of the government agent. Those demands will ultimately carry an enormous gravitas. Behind what seems to the hunters to be the government agent's incoherent requests is a policy that will mean a fundamental rupture in the lives of Inuit. […] In this one day — and this fateful meeting — Kunuk condenses much about Inuit–settler relations. The emotional and historical layers in the film make it one of his finest works” (TIFF).

We look forward to seeing you there!


Ajuinnata at McGill Posters

EN/FR: PDF icon Ajuinnata at McGill Poster EN/FR

INUKTITUT: PDF icon cer3271_14_x_8.5_inuktitut.pdf

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Art, Architecture, and Traditional Knowledge Exhibition Posters

EN/FR: PDF icon cer3253_final_2.pdf

INUKTITUT: PDF icon cer3253_inuktitut.pdf

Land Acknowledgement Video

Indigenous Initiatives produced a land acknowledgement video during McGill's Bicentennial. The video features a performance by Shakorennawis Doxtador-Swamp. 

Hiawatha Wampum Belt Flag Raising

“These are important steps but we know they are not the last steps. They are continuing steps toward our journey together for reconciliation."

-Principal Suzanne Fortier

In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st, McGill University held a virtual flag raising ceremony of the Hiawatha Wampum Belt flag above the McCall MacBain Arts Building. The Hiawatha Wampum Belt flag, a purple and white flag, flies on top of the Arts building at McGill University

For centuries, the Hiawatha Wampum Belt flag has symbolized unity and peace between the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Kanien'kehá:ka nations. Inaugurated at McGill in 2018, this ceremony responds to one of the Calls to Action put forward by the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education in recognition of the importance of building respectful and reciprocal relations with Indigenous peoples.

The flag raising ceremony featured Kevin Deer and Michael Loft as speakers. Mr. Deer is a Faithkeeper with extensive experience in education, language revitalization, and spiritual revitalization. Mr. Loft is a social worker, researcher, and former professor whose work focuses on healing in First Nations communities. Mr. Deer and Mr. Loft are both members of the Kanien'kehá:ka community of Kahnawà:ke. 

Follow this link to read more about the flag raising ceremony

Watch the flag ceremony here: 

Gault Nature Reserve Partnership

"This is another step along the path to honouring the past and reconciling the future. A long road remains ahead of us, but we are committed to engaging and collaborating with Indigenous partners to identify, explore, and advance plans that benefit our whole society by embedding Indigenous traditions in the life and activities of the University".

-Provost Christopher Manfredi

McGill is excited to announce a new partnership between the university's Gault Nature Reserve and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki. The partnership agreement gives members of the Odanak and Wôlinak communities free access to the Gault Nature Reserve, and recognizes the reserve's cultural significance. 

Follow this link to read the press release on the partnership

Watch the partnership announcement:

Medicine Walk on the Gault Nature Reserve / Introduction aux plantes médicinales à la Réserve naturelle Gault

Abenaki specialist Michel Durand Nolett leads a virtual walk at the Gault Nature Reserve / Le spécialiste Abénaki Michel Durand Nolett mène une promenade virtuelle à la Réserve naturelle Gault.

Beatrice Deer Performance

Beatrice Deer is an acclaimed Inuk/Mohawk singer and songwriter from Quaqtaq, Quebec. She performed three songs- "Immutaa", "My All to You", and "Takugiursugit"- as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. 

Craig Commanda Performance

Anishinaabe multidiciplinary artist Craig Commanda (Kitigan Zibi) performs "For the Children," a fingerstyle acoustic composition dedicated to the spirits of the children lost to residential schools.

Back to top