New kihêw waciston Indigenous centre opens

November 8, 2019 | Society, Campus Life, Arts & Culture

On November 7 MacEwan University officially opened the wooden doors that welcome visitors to the new kihêw waciston Indigenous centre – a space for all students, faculty, staff and community members to come together in search of truth and in the spirit of reconciliation.

“As a university community, we at MacEwan frequently express our commitment to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action,” said Board Chair Carolyn Graham at the opening event. “But as we all know, actions speak louder than words. It’s not enough to simply say we’re committed to reconciliation – we must show it. We must live it.”

The new enhanced space is designed to facilitate a wide range of support services and educational opportunities for all MacEwan students, and to invite the larger community in to join the university in ceremony and learning.

Every single element of the new kihêw waciston – from the artwork that welcomes visitors at the entrance and the four directions reflected in the placement of the floorboards, to the circular themes that occur throughout the space and Cree constellations embedded in the ceiling – is grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and was carefully considered for its ability to facilitate Indigenous teachings, reflect Indigenous perspectives on wellness and to foster a sense of community.

“This space was designed to help all of our students succeed – personally and academically – by connecting their university experience with cultural ways of knowing and being, and reminding them that they never have to give up any part of who they are in order to thrive in a new environment,” said John McGrath, acting president.

Elder Francis Whiskeyjack opened the event with a smudging ceremony, and Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson and Edmonton City Councillor Scott McKeen also spoke at the event, bringing greetings from the province and the city.

“This paradigm shift of cultures coming together is a beautiful thing,” said Wilson. In addition to offering valuable academic, personal and financial support, Wilson said he was pleased to know that the centre would also provide culturally appropriate education and support Alberta’s economy with skilled Indigenous workers.

Here is a selection of photos taken during the official opening of the centre, located on the east side of the Robbins Health Learning Centre in 9-115, on November 7.

Welcome to the new kihêw waciston Indigenous centre, located in Room 9-115 of the Robbins Health Learning Centre (formerly Paul Byrne Hall).
Ashley Albert-Hunter, Bachelor of Arts (sociology) student, kihêw waciston peer advisor and president of the Indigenous Students Club was emcee for the opening event.
Elder Francis Whiskeyjack began the event with an Indigenous blessing and reminded everyone that "while the light may not always be bright, we can make it brighter."
Edmonton City Councillor Scott McKeen, MacEwan University's Director of Indigenous Initiatives Terri Suntjens, Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, MacEwan University Board Chair Carolyn Graham, Edmonton City Councillor Aaron Paquette and MacEwan University Acting President John McGrath gather after the new centre is officially opened.
Members of the Gadwa Dance Troupe help celebrate the opening.
The Poundmaker Drum Group filled the new space with song.
A tipi took its place in the outdoor space that will be used by kihêw waciston.


Get to know the new kihêw waciston

Everyone is welcome here. Stop by anytime – for tea, to study, to visit with Elders and connect with one another. Want to know more? Watch for the story behind the space coming to later in November.

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