Seneca College RED 2019 - 20

Not every Indigenous student has
experienced their culture, so for
some of us it's the first time
we're having these experiences.

"The more that we introduce people to Indigenous resurgence and
history, it will build a natural sense of compassion and build
relationships," she says. "It's about making it more meaningful
than just being part of a textbook."
A true Indigenous space
While it is only 167 square metres in size, Odeyto represents a
meaningful difference from previous spaces occupied by First
Peoples@Seneca. Pitawanakwat, who came to Seneca in 2011 after
serving as the first woman ogimaa (chief ) of the Wiikwemkoong
on Manitoulin Island, has witnessed the transition.
"You always make the most of whatever you have, and you're
always grateful for what you do have," she says. "And we've
always been able to work within our space and make our students
feel important."
She does, however, acknowledge that moving from a smaller
space to one that is custom designed for First Peoples@Seneca has
improved the services provided to students and how they relate
to the Seneca community.
"It was very meaningful for me to see that kind of blessing take
place," Pitawanakwat says. "When we talk about creating Indigenous space, this represents a true spirit of that on campus. It was
not there previously in the same way."
The $2.8-million project was made possible by a contribution
from the provincial government as part of the college system's
50th anniversary. The building includes office space for staff, computers and study space for students and, perhaps most importantly,
a kitchen and meeting area. This is allowing more opportunities
to gather as groups, prepare food and share it, which is an important aspect of Indigenous culture.
"We have students coming throughout the year from other campuses for our ceremonies and feasts," Pitawanakwat says.
These celebrations include the day-long Tasewung feast, where
20

RED

2019

people prepare dishes of someone they've loved who has passed
onto the spirit world, and they share stories about them during the
day. Previously, feasts like this would have been broken into a
number of sittings due to the lack of room; but now that everyone
can gather together, there has been increased participation.
"Not every Indigenous student has experienced their culture,
so for some of us it's the first time we're having these experiences,"
Greenfield says. "And by doing that, we're honouring ourselves,
each other and the lives our ancestors would have wanted for us."
Both Pitawanakwat and Solomon have noticed something else,
something they didn't expect. The students have adopted the
space and made it their own.
"In some ways, students are doing their own programming,"
Solomon says. "It's interesting to see how after building this space,
the students have somewhat organically built a community within
it. We never expected them to do that. Beyond the awards and
media attention, having students build their own community in
Odeyto feels like the real win here."
Pitawanakwat agrees, adding, "At convocation, it was really nice
to see students returning to Odeyto to take their picture. They're
very proud of this space."
Solomon looks back to when the Seneca executive first
approached him about creating a new Indigenous space. He has
trouble believing all that has happened since and the difference
that commitment has made to the students.
"I tell these students that I expect them to come back and take
my job," he says. "We have good times and bad times, but we're
training our future leaders in Odeyto and we're hopefully making
things better for the next generation."
Greenfield has been there throughout the changes and knows
what a difference it has made for her and her friends.
"This is the world my grandmother would have wanted for me,
and it's unbelievable that I get to be part of it every single day."



Seneca College RED 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seneca College RED 2019

Table of Contents
Seneca College RED 2019 - Cover1
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Seneca College RED 2019 - Table of Contents
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Seneca College RED 2019 - Cover3
Seneca College RED 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2015fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2014fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2013fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/seneca/red_2012fall
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com