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Trent University to present honorary degrees to distinguished Indigenous recipients at upcoming convocation



Drew Hayden Taylor of Curve Lake First Nation to receive an honourary doctorate of letters from Trent University on June 7. – Photos supplied

By Walter Quinlan

PETERBOROUGH— At Convocation ceremonies this June 7, Trent University will award honorary degrees to Drew Hayden Taylor (Curve Lake First Nation) and Master Warrant Officer Moogly J.J.E.G. Tetrault-Hamel (Abenaki First Nation).

Master Warrant Officer Moogly Tetrault-Hamel will receive an honorary doctorate of laws in recognition of his 21 years of distinguished military service and his robust Indigenous advocacy and awareness training within the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence. He was previously awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013) and the Order of Military Merit (2022).

Drew Hayden Taylor, an award-winning author of over 20 plays and 34 books and the first Indigenous scriptwriter in Canada (“The Beachcombers”), will receive an honorary doctorate of letters.

“A traditional storyteller once told me that ‘We need new stories as much as the old ones,’” Drew said. “That gave me the license to go out and imagine.”

“I pay attention to the world,” he added. “It provides me with ideas and ways to tell a story that are easy to embrace… That’s what I tell people I do for a living – I imagine, and I tell stories… I know what a good story is.”

The story of Indigenous Studies at Trent begins with a cup of tea.

Harvey McCue (Waubageshig) is from the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. He is a respected educator, advocate for Indigenous youth, and a member of the Order of Canada.

In the fall of 1967, when he was in his second year at Trent, Harvey was asked to meet with the university’s president, Dr. Thomas H.B. Symons.

“I was quite anxious to know why I had received an invitation to see him,” he recalled.

Dr. Symons shared with Harvey his longstanding interest, in the language of the day, in Native peoples. Now, as a university president, he wanted to act on it.

“What should I do?” asked President Symons.

“I was just a kid,” Harvey said. “I was absolutely floored by the question.”

But, at that moment, he recalled something he’d recently learned: in 1964, only 160 Indigenous people had attended university in Canada. Harvey told Dr. Symons that increasing the number of Indigenous students at Trent would be a good objective.

They met again that fall and agreed on a concept of an academic program that would focus on First Nations topics and encourage First Nations students to come to Trent.

President Symons was true to his word. By June 1969, a working committee, including Harvey, began turning the concept into reality.

That September, Trent’s Indian Eskimo Studies Program began with 28 students enrolled in one course. By 1972, there were over 300 students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in the first-year program of the Department of Native Studies.

These were exciting times.

“President Symons told me to ‘Keep a suitcase by the door,’” Harvey recalled, and he travelled to high schools throughout Ontario to share the news about Native Studies at Trent.

There was also a deliberate effort to hire Indigenous faculty: educators who brought their experiences, knowledge, and messages to the classroom. Harvey was a part of this group and taught at Trent for 14 years.

“Our initial objective was to inform and educate all students about the social and political issues that were part of the Indigenous experience in Canada,” said Harvey; it was a new approach President Symons supported from day one, with funding written into the university’s budget.

Trent University is on the homelands of the Mississaugi Anishinaabe, and it’s the home of the Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies.

“We wanted to focus on the flight of Chanie to safety,” said Professor David Newhouse (Onondaga), Chair of Indigenous Studies. “For the last 50 years, Trent has created a place of safety where Indigenous knowledge and people are respected.”

Along with academic work, there are opportunities for students to experience life in a community, engage in ceremony, and reconnect with original teachings.

“There’s a sense that we’re helping Indigenous knowledge to come alive in people’s lives,” said Professor Newhouse.

Harvey is glad that today, students in schools across Canada are gaining a deeper understanding of Indigenous knowledge.

“People have asked me: ‘Why is it important for you to know who you are, and why is it important for me, as a non-Indigenous person, to know who you are?’” he explained. “My answer is always the same: our people grew up on this land and we understand this land better than other people. If there’s a solution to the issues coming generations face, our knowledge will be an important guidepost when solving those issues.”

An education grounded in knowledge prepares Indigenous graduates for their future.

“Having a strong sense of self, knowing who you are, is critical for survival,” he said. “Anyone with a strong sense of self – there’s no holding them back, and I believe Trent contributes to that.”

Drew, who never attended university, looks forward to meeting the students at Convocation.

“We’re both heading down that same stream of life,” Drew said. “My education comes from experience and writing, theirs come from a different source. But it’s all learning, experience, and sharing.”

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Mikinakoos Children’s Fund launches $15,000 fundraiser for GivingTuesday




Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation on GivingTuesday on November 28, 2023. – Photo supplied

THUNDER BAY (November 22, 2023) — Mikinakoos Children’s Fund, an Indigenous children’s charity providing essentials to youth in remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, is announcing the launch of a special fundraiser in recognition of GivingTuesday.

In alignment with the global GivingTuesday movement, Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation. The initiative seeks to purchase over 1,500 coats for children in these regions, ensuring they are equipped to brave the harsh winter months.

“The winter season can be particularly challenging in the remote areas we serve, where many children lack access to proper winter gear,” said Mikinakoos Executive Director Emily Shandruk. “Mikinakoos Children’s Fund believes that every child deserves the warmth of hope during the colder months. With this in mind, we’re launching this crucial campaign to make a positive impact.”

Recent support from TD Canada Trust’s Ready Commitment Funding, a $50,000 grant over two years, is boosting Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s Warm Clothing initiatives, of which this initiative is a part. With growing requests from various communities and organizations, Mikinakoos’ GivingTuesday funding alone wouldn’t have sufficed. Thanks to the extra support, the charity can now ensure that no child is left without essential resources.

GivingTuesday, which falls on November 28, marks the opening day of the giving season—a global movement encouraging people to come together for a day of generosity and positive change. Mikinakoos invites individuals and organizations alike to join in the effort to make a difference.

Here’s how you can contribute:

Donate: Your contribution, regardless of size, will bring Mikinakoos Children’s Fund closer to its $15,000 goal. Every dollar counts. GivingTuesday falls on November 28; however, this fundraiser will run until December 31.
Spread the Word: Share our campaign on social media, with friends, family, and colleagues. Together, we can make a wider impact.

“The remoteness of the communities we serve presents challenges in shipping and distributing necessities, such as food, sporting equipment, and winter gear, especially with the absence of permanent roads,” said Shandruk. “Climate change has further exacerbated the inconsistency of ice road conditions, making the delivery of essential items even more difficult.”

Please consider contributing to Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s GivingTuesday campaign through this link or by texting “WARMCOATS” to 807-500-1522. Interviews with spokespeople from Mikinakoos Children’s Fund are available upon request.

About Mikinakoos Children’s Fund

Mikinakoos Children’s Fund is a charity created to address poverty by providing basic amenities, such as food, clothing, and shelter to First Nations children residing in remote communities. Join us on this journey to create positive change and secure the safety and wellbeing First Nations children. Engage with Mikinakoos Children’s Fund on social through #FirstNationKidsFirst.


Victoria Belton
Senior Consultant
Media Profile
Tel: 416-992-5179

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