James Wilson and Kevin Vose-Landivar

James Wilson and Kevin Vose-Landivar (left to right, photo taken before COVID-19)

Kevin Vose-Landivar is the first friend James Wilson made at Humber College. 

“I was still finding my place,” said Wilson, who is from Six Nations of the Grand River. 

He didn’t know anyone when he stepped onto campus.  

He visited the Indigenous Education and Engagement Centre soon after he got to Humber and met the people who would become his support system and cheering squad. 

Wilson, who took the Social Service Worker program, is also a passionate and successful singer-songwriter. 

A few days after first meeting, department coordinator Kevin Vose-Landivar attended one of Wilson's performances on campus. 

“He stood there for a full hour with an iPad to take a livestream for me. His arms were getting sore! I had a good laugh,” said Wilson. 

He was touched by the experience  and he became a regular at the office. He even completed a work placement there. 

When Wilson graduated, IEE recognized him with an ‘Emerging Artist’ award. 

Every year, the department celebrates graduating Indigenous students at Humber with an awards gala.  

The banquet is more than an awards show - it recognizes successes in each student’s journey. 

“We’re proud of them and we love them” 

Like Wilson, many Indigenous students at Humber are away from home and experience unique barriers to education. 

“It’s important for us as an Indigenous community to show we care about them, we’re proud of them and we love them,” said Jason Seright, the dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement. Jason Seright

Some students have had friends or family members pass away, or they’ve come from difficult situations. Others are the first in their family to attend post-secondary education. 

Seright describes many Indigenous students’ “non-linear trajectories.” Since success is defined differently for each person, every award is different.  

“The awards come from us learning and getting to know and growing with the student. We get to know what they’re doing outside of school and on their free time,” said Vose-Landivar. 

The award winners weren’t notified prior to the event, so every recognition was a surprise. 

The gala, which is usually hosted at Humber College in April, was live streamed this year due to social distancing measures.  

But even online, the event had soul. 

Vose describes one award recognizing a young artist as “a way to show our love and support for her talent.” 

Beyond expectations 

James Wilson found community in the Indigenous Education and Engagement Centre, even though he was shy and quiet at first, like many other first-year students. 

He soon found that the Centre and staff could help him academically. 

“I have ADHD so I needed accessible learning. Being at the Centre, there was support there. Beyond that, if I needed a quiet space, I could go there. If I needed to print something, I could go there. Compared to other places on campus, [Indigenous Education and Engagement] was my go-to,” he said. 

High school had been difficult for him and his parents were told that he wouldn’t go to college. 

Wilson graduated from Humber College with honours. His dream, beyond his music career, is to someday return to the college to work and have a positive impact on other Indigenous students. 

He is an example of what is possible when someone finds community. 

James Wilson by Sylvia PondThe graduating students of 2020 also found comfort at the Indigenous Education and Engagement Centre, with Kevin Vose-Landivar and his colleagues. 

Almost 100 people joined the Zoom meeting for the award announcements where, despite the circumstances, the graduates were shown love, pride, and support as they continue their journies. 

The awards were given out to 10 graduates this year. 

  • Indigenous Achievement Award for committment to the desire to achieve success in their chosen path.
    • Harmony Johnston, Community Justice Services diploma 
    • Brooke-Lyn Clapman-Hayes, Bachelor of Social Science - Criminal Justice 
  • Indigenous Award of Merit for dedication to studies and educational endeavours
    • Angel Levac – Interior Decorating diploma 
    • Dayna Smith - from Interior Decorating Diploma
  • Indigenous Award of Excellence for dedication and high grade point average 
    • Kayla Jacobs - Bachelor of Child & Youth Care 
  • Indigenous Community Leadership Award for excellence in academics, community involvement and leadership 
    • Jacquelyn Assinewe - Fashion Arts & Business Diploma 
    • Scott Wabano - Current student, Fashion Arts & Business Diploma 
  • Indigenous Wellness & Leadership Award for commitment to community wellness and leadership in an overall healthy lifestyle 
    • Carly Albert - Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Advanced Diploma and Degree Certificate 
  • Indigenous Emerging Artist Award for excellence in academics and leadership through art 
    • Marissa Groulx – Bachelor of Commerce - Fashion Management 
  • Indigenous Student Leadership Award for leadership and commitment to advocacy and improving the human rights of Indigenous People 
    • Michelle Doucette - Current student, Social Service Worker Diploma