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The event was held in the UCU Agora. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum

Rain didn’t stop the festivities hosted by the U of O Indigenous Student Association

University of Ottawa students gathered in the University Centre on Thursday afternoon for a celebration of Indigenous communities through art and performance.

Vendors provided Indigenous students with resources and information on campus services and offered a number of activities, including beadwork.

Elders, singers and dancers spoke and performed routines and chants for spectators. Key events included performances from Inuit throat singers and a smoke dance and chant, as well as a celebratory drumming performance. Spectators were included and encouraged to join in.

This is the third annual celebration hosted by the Indigenous Student Association, says vice-president of internal affairs Émilie Gauthier. 

Gauthier, who is Innu and a third-year social science student, says the event is about bringing people together. 

“We always try to have this cultural celebration every year just to bring people together from different communities to have a good time and to make our presence known on campus,” says Gauthier. 

She says events like these help bring awareness to the resources available for Indigenous students on campus. 

“Often people don’t really know there is an Indigenous Student Association, they don’t know there is a resource centre on campus, they don’t know that there are all these resources available for students.”. 

Gauthier says the event is also a way to form an intertribal connection and link students from different Indigenous communities together. 

“We’re easily forgotten,” says Gauthier. “I feel like it’s very important to have these events on campus, just because it’s easy to forget that there are Indigenous students who are studying here. We represent about 500 students who self-identify as Indigenous.”

Gauthier says she encourages students to visit the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Centre located just off-campus to participate in activities and find resources. 

“I know it’s intimidating at first … I had the same feeling when I first started going to the centre, but it’s important to go and find those resources that are available if you need them,” says Gauthier. “They really bring a sense of community in this university journey.”

“It’s important to show that we’re here and that Indigenous students don’t have to hide their culture,” says Gauthier. “They can actually have a group here that can support them, sort of like a little family or community here on campus that can support them and be there for them and offer them a safe space to practice their culture and to discover new things and connect with other Indigenous students.“