Three people sit around a table as one speaks into a microphone as a crowd listens.

Each year, Humber’s Indigenous Education and Engagement (IE&E) department organizes the Indigenous Knowledges Gathering (IKG) event that brings together educators, practitioners, scholars, students and members of Indigenous communities to a safe space to think about and engage in conversations about the role and inherent responsibilities of education.  

It includes a series of virtual and in-person panels and sessions and the 2022 event took place November 17 and 18.

This year’s theme was Overcoming Adversities Through Indigenous Wellness.

Quazance Boissoneau, manager, IE&E, and Elijah Williams, associate dean, IE&E, said this year’s event had a focus on how Humber’s Indigenous community can lean on their culture and traditional knowledge to overcome adversity. There was also an emphasis on the health and wellness of students, and the event hosted speakers who could serve as positive examples for Indigenous Humber students, and the wider community.  

“When you hear other people's stories, you can draw parallels as to how you can get through what you’re experiencing,” said Williams.

The first virtual discussion at this year’s event was a panel of Humber students, alumni, and faculty discussing how to effectively foster Indigenous learner success both in and out of the classroom, including student services, extracurricular activities, and everywhere across campus. On day two, Cara Loft, professor of Indigenous Determinants of Health at Humber, led a keynote discussion about her work examining musical cultural practices and their effect on wholistic well-being.

The third session was held at the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation and focused on the journey of three professional Indigenous athletes – Michael Linklater, Brigette Lacquette and Jeremy Thompson – who have all achieved significant milestones in their careers. They shared how traditional knowledge played a part in their success and also led an engaging Q&A for attendees. The session was livestreamed to Humber’s YouTube channel.  

To round off the sessions, there were also IE&E community consultation sessions and a mini-hand drum workshop.

RBC Future Launch was the event’s Speaker Sponsor while the Indigenous Professionals Association of Canada partnered with IE&E on the Pathways to Success networking dinner.

Those who participated had an opportunity to learn about Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing, examined emerging challenges impacting Indigenous students, took part in hands-on cultural teachings and workshops and developed strategies to build more responsive educational policies, systems, and practices.

Boissoneau said the IKG is an important yearly event as it provides a venue for Humber’s Indigenous community to gather to heal, communicate and engage in healthy relations. It also is of value to the non-Indigenous community.

“Many people want to support reconciliation but aren’t sure where to start,” said Boissoneau. “We organize these safe spaces and the people who come out to them can learn more and also think about how they can support reconciliation.”

Williams said the event was a way for non-Indigenous people to show support and to learn more about Indigenous culture. He added it’s also a chance for the communities to build relationships with each other and an opportunity for non-Indigenous people to unlearn any misconceptions they might have.  

Humber’s faculty who attended have found it beneficial, said Williams, as they began considering how some of the topics that were discussed could be incorporated into their program’s curriculum.  

Williams said one of the reasons he wanted to join Humber was the work the college has undertaken to support and encourage its Indigenous students. He noted that, just last year, the college was awarded Gold for Indigenous Education Excellence at the 2021 CICan Connection Virtual Conference.   

“I would say Humber is on the right track to being one of the leaders in the area of Indigenous education and engagement,” said Williams. “But the work on this is never done. There will be a lot of good change that happens in the near future, but it will take time.”

IE&E has been integral in incorporating Indigenous Ways of Being, Knowing and Doing into Humber's everyday operations and overall strategies and plans. Under their guidance, Humber is also strengthening its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.  

Humber College is committed to recognizing and celebrating Indigenous cultures, histories, and knowledges in its academic programming, events, professional development, and other initiatives. November is recognized as Indigenous Education Month and is an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the histories, cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.   

Find out more at the IE&E website.