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Indigenous in the city

Daylong discussion on the challenges of faced by First Nation, Inuit and Metis in urban settings
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Drumsticks at rest. Rob O'Flanagan/GuelphToday

Being Indigenous in an urban setting can be a challenging and disorienting experience, says Patrick Beaudry of the Aboriginal Student Association at the University of Guelph.

The association will host a series of panel discussions Sunday revolving around the sense of disconnection that comes with living as a First Nation, Inuit or Metis person in an urban center.

The daylong series of panel discussions and conversations begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at 10 Carden, 10 Carden Street downtown.

“The event is for everyone,” said Beaudry. “We are really just looking to start facilitating conversations around what it means to be Indigenous in urban settings.”

There will be three separate panels on the Sunday, he said, the first being on knowledge and education, specifically how to incorporate traditional knowledge into a westernized education system.

A number of community members, students, and U of G faculty members will speak at the event. One key theme is how to maintain a connection to the land while living in a city.

The second panel will offer an Indigenous perspective on health and wellness, discussing it as a counterbalance to mainstream medicine. And the third panel will be on reclaiming traditions.

The goal of the event is to explore practical ways to deal with the many situations that arise for Indigenous people in urban settings related to their culture, identity, feelings of social connection, and their personal experiences.

Active listeners, smudge, and other medicines will be available at the event, and First Nation, Inuit and Metis attendees are prioritized. Food will be provided.

“We feel the need as students who are removed from our communities at home to have these conversations,” Beaudry said. “Because being removed from our traditional land where we grew up makes it more difficult to access knowledge from elders and others who we learn from in a traditional sense.”

There is a growing need to establish a strong Indigenous community of support on campus and in Guelph, he added.

“We find it is important to make time to have these kinds of conversations,” he added.


Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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