A teepee was raised at the University of Calgary on Monday to welcome students to campus.
“It’s beautiful to see a Blackfoot home in the middle of a university campus. I really like it. It makes the campus look nice and brings out the diversity of the Treaty 7 people,” said U of C student Julius Hirsch.
Reg Crowshoe, a Piikani Nation elder and U of C Indigenous strategy adviser, is proud to have designed the teepee.
“It’s a visual for our young people,” he said. “But I also hope that it sparks some sort of support for Indigenous oral systems, so we can teach our young people.”
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Crowshoe hopes the teepee helps welcome both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
“I’m proud for our young people to see it and feel at home,” he said.
“When I first came to this campus back in the early 1970s, I felt so alone because there was nothing like this. No visuals, and you were in a sea of a written default system of people learning, and you were the only oral system learner,” he added.
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“You’re saying, ‘How am I going to survive?’”
As for Indigenous students like Hirsch, he hopes this will not only welcome students but also prompts people to learn more about their history.
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“Hopefully, it would make [Indigenous students] feel more at home, more comfortable. They could be themselves, and they don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed or feel uncomfortable with their past or their background. This is a really good way to be prideful of your background,” he said.
“I really hope this makes people want to get involved and educate themselves more about Canadian and Indigenous affairs and relationships.”
The teepee will remain up until Wednesday.
– With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo
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