HAMILTON – Reclaiming space and sharing knowledge was the goal of last week’s cultural gathering at McMaster University last Thursday.
The gathering, put on by a group on campus called “McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance” (MISCA), took place on a field right in the heart of the campus and was intended to help indigenous students feet at home as they begin a new year of studies; also to help non-indigenous students become more familiar with the First Nation, Inuit and Metis students and culture at McMaster University.
“We want all students at the school to feel safe and comfortable while they are studying here,” said Maya Gorodskoy, a McMaster student and member of MISCA. “It’s a time to celebrate one another’s cultures and allow First Nations, Inuit and Metis staff and students to ‘reclaim space’ in a way.”
Throughout the day, students were invited to watch Pow Wow, Inuit and Metis performers, sample free traditional foods like strawberry juice, scone and corn soup, visit the silent auction booth and purchase some handmade artwork or clothing sold by several different vendors.
Guests were treated to a wide array of dance and performances during the event; dances like — women and men’s traditional, men’s grass and women’s shuffle, were performed by several different nations.
Despite the rain and cold, a few dozen university, high school and elementary school students came to the gathering. A group of students who are a part of the Aboriginal Club at Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton took time off of school to come take in the experience.
This event is really cool,” said Sadie, a Grade 12 student from Westdale. “I’ve seen Pow Wow before, but I really appreciate seeing all the different group represented here today and it makes me happy seeing Metis and Inuit showcased alongside the First Nations groups.”
Westdale’s Aboriginal Club is in its first year of operation and the cultural gathering was the group’s first official outing.
“The club was first thought of by another student from the school named Cordell, he is from Six Nations and from the turtle clan,” said Sadie.
The club is open to students at Westdale who are interested in learning about indigenous culture.
“The club is for anyone who is an ally for aboriginal culture,” said Victoria, a classmate of Sadie’s and club member. “We’re going to go on different cultural outings, learn about aboriginal issues, shed light on stereotypes and try to get more attention for the group within our school.”
The gathering went on for most of the day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This was the third year that MISCA has put on the event and organizers are hopeful that everybody walked away having learned or experienced something new.