The Indigenous-inspired courtyard outside the DARE District at Algonquin College'sOttawa campus. Photo credit: Madalyn Howitt

As we enter a new school year unlike any other, the Mamidosewin Centre is preparing for a semester filled with events, activities and support to help aid all new and returning students this fall.

The Mamidosewin Centre, typically located in the E-building at Algonquin can now be virtually visited through their Facebook page or the Algonquin College website.

Throughout the week, a variety of events are currently being offered to allow students to learn, experience and engage with one another. Some of these events include virtual daily smudging, hand drumming and craft-making over Zoom, followed by a variety of different workshops and ceremonies.

Jackie Tenute, an Aboriginal councillor and therapist at the Mamidosewin Centre, has been working there for about 10 years. She is currently the host of the virtual smudging event that takes place every morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Facebook Live. “Smudging is one of the big things that I am trying to do to connect with the Indigenous students,” said Tenute.

Tenute is currently back in her community of Neyaashiinigmiing – Home to Chippewas of Nawash unceded and unsurrendered traditional territories – a reserve located in Bruce County, Ontario.

Tenute’s virtual smudging event has had an outreach of over 900 viewers which continues to grow every day. She hopes this event can be as interactive as the Mamidosewin Centre’s other events and activities. “I just want it to be a real and genuine experience for the people joining,” said Tenute.

Tenute along with the other members of the Mamidosewin community want to ensure the Indigenous community of Algonquin feels welcomed and connected. In addition, the Centre has also made personalized emails for each Indigenous student attending Algonquin this year. “We want Indigenous students to know, they are supported at Algonquin College,” said Tenute.

In addition, the Centre is also looking to connect Indigenous students, who are in the same programs. “We know that it’s just so difficult right now. People are feeling isolated and alone,” said Tenute. “Part of the college experience is to connect with other people in your program.”

The Mamidosewin Centre wants not only the Indigenous community of Algonquin to feel welcomed and supported, but everyone to feel free to join in on these connecting activities and events.

“It’s our duty to help you as much as we can. You are really important, and you are our future leaders,” said Tenute.

More information about upcoming workshops can be found on their Facebook page and or Algonquin College website.