- By Rick Garrick
Confederation College’s A Northern Welcome: Celebration and Feast with drumming, dancing and traditional foods was a hit for students from across the north and around the world.
“The feast was really good,” says Winter McCready, a second-year practical nursing student. “As an Aboriginal student, it’s really nice to see (people) doing these cultural things. And the fish was awesome.”
McCready also enjoyed the drumming performance by the drummers, who were from Shkoday Abinojiiwak Obimiwedoon Aboriginal Head Start in Thunder Bay.
“I actually love listening to the drumming,” McCready says. “It’s really nice just to see people come together and experience different cultures, especially when they are not familiar with it. It’s nice to see people trying new foods. We have lots of international students; you notice them more when we do these types of activities. Plus it’s nice to have free lunch.”
Jeevan Aulakh, a first-year dental assistant student from India, enjoyed the Northern Welcome: Celebration and Feast.
“It was good actually — I tried it for the first time and I really like it,” Aulakh says. “I just had the fish and it is pretty tasteful.”
Aulakh enjoyed the drumming as well.
“I haven’t seen anything like this in India,” Aulakh says. “I’m an international student; it’s good to see.”
The Northern Welcome: Celebration and Feast was presented by Oshki Anishnawbeg Student Association (OASA) on Sept. 7 in the Shuniah Student Lounge. The feast featured walleye, wild rice, corn and two varieties of bannock, one with blueberries and another with cheese.
Patricia DeGagne, OASA’s president and a second-year Aboriginal community advocacy student, says the Northern Welcome: Celebration and Feast was held to welcome the students, new and old, back for another year of studies.
“And to just give thanks to the Creator for being here,” DeGagne says. “It’s nice to see all the new students come out and get involved in the school. It looks like there are a lot of new international students this year.”
Bryanna Scott, Confederation College’s manager of student life and Indigenous initiatives, says the community at Confederation College has commonalities with music, dance, food and celebration.
“It’s a great way for all of our students to become aware of Aboriginal culture and to celebrate through feast, through breaking bread with one another, through sharing and learning,” Scott says. “And it helps overall make our students more global citizens.”
Elder Gerry Martin says it is good to welcome people from all over the world.
“This is an international college now,” Martin says. “It’s a really good thing to welcome people, our students as well as the other students from around Canada and around the world, to share in our bounty and that good food.”
Nick Quoquat, a first-year film production student, appreciated the feast.
“It was pretty awesome finding something to eat because I forgot food,” Quoquat says.
Jim Madder, Confederation College’s president, says the college has several thousand new students this year, with a total of about 7,500 students overall expected by the end of the school year.
“You can hear right now in the background, we have a drumming circle that is happening just to say hello and welcome our Indigenous students,” Madder says. “There is a feast. Yesterday we had all sorts of activities for all of our students.”
The Northern Welcome: Celebration and Feast was part of Confederation College’s Orientation week, which runs from Sept. 6-18. Other activities included the Homegrown Cafe on Sept. 8, the Sleeping Giant Hike on Sept. 11, the Movie Marathon Monday on Sept. 12, the Karaoke for Kash on Sept. 13 and the Campus and Community Connections Fair on Sept. 14.