By Bobinec, Greg on January 28, 2020.
The University of Lethbridge has renamed its Elders Room, dedicating the space as the Carolla Calf Robe Elders and Ceremony Room, at a ceremonial event in University Hall, Monday morning.
Described as a native herbalist, Calf Robe learned about plants from grandmothers and was transferred the right to make medicine from her own grandmother in the 1970s. She has also instructed others in plant identification and common uses, along with often speaking to health sciences classes to share her knowledge.
“Today here at the university, we were able to honour our Elder in Residence Napiakii Carolla Calf Robe. We had here in the Indigenous Studies department an honouring for Carolla and her long-time service here at the University of Lethbridge,” says Charlene Bruised Head-Mountain Horse, Indigenous student adviser at U of L. “She had touched many lives here on campus and we had some of the students talk and be part of their journey here. A lot of people have shared about how she was able to be patient and listen and honouring their questions at the time of encounter, visiting her twice a week, and students were able to visit and she is sadly missed here on campus and we are honoured to be able to honour the Ceremony Room where many of our students gather and where she was present on campus.”
Calf Robe worked with several agencies and used her insight, based on traditional and western models, to help people make changes in their lives. Along with the work she did at the U of L, Calf Robe worked with Red Crow College and the Galileo Educational Network.
Family, friends, co-workers and community members who were close to Calf Robe shared their personal stories of the stern woman with endless stories of advice. Twice a week, Calf Robe worked at the university to assist students and help them make decisions, using lessons and teachings from her own experiences and Indigenous culture.
“I am just so grateful that all of the work and knowledge that she has was truly appreciated,” says Tashina Calf Robe, Carolla’s granddaughter. “Hearing all of the people speak about her has been so heartwarming and just hearing people talk about the impact she had on the entire university and community here, and the sense of belonging, really lifted our spirits today.”
The Elders Room has been an important spot for many students and staff at the university, as it is a space for them to seek out resources to better or further their education, but to also speak with Elders and gain advice from their wisdom, which can improve the post-secondary experience for Indigenous students.
“The Elders Room is a very important spot on our campus and it’s fitting we rename it in honour of a woman who gave so much to our community,” says Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “Her eagerness to provide counsel and allow us to learn from her vast wisdom and experience enhanced greatly the campus experience for all students, faculty and staff.”
The Carolla Calf Robe Elders and Ceremony Room is open to all students, faculty and staff at the U of L. Current Elder in Residence, Francis First Charger, is on campus one full day each week throughout the fall and spring semesters.
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