June 14th, 2024

U of L event highlights new Iikaisskini Gathering Place


By Lethbridge Herald on April 7, 2022.

Herald Photo by Ry Clarke Iikaisskini Indigenous Student Centre hosted a Meet and Greet Wednesday afterternoon, giving students an opportunity to connect with staff from the Centre and learn more about the services it provides.
Ry Clarke
for the Lethbridge Herald
Indigenous Awareness Week is currently ongoing at the University of Lethbridge, with the post-secondary institution hosting a Meet and Greet event on Wednesday organized by Iikaisskini Indigenous Student Services. Introducing students and guests to its new Iikaisskini Gathering Place, which opened back in November 2021, and gave students a chance to meet staff from Iikaisskini Services.
Former Blood Tribe Chief and Treaty 7 Grand Chief, Chancellor Charles Weaselhead, attended the Meet and Greet, saying the week’s events have been well received by all students and that now is a time for greater understanding of Indigenous traditions, culture, and people.
“This notion about truth and reconciliation starts here, with individual mind, with individuals, and with both communities. There is a history between the city of Lethbridge and our tribe, our tribe consists of four of the Blackfeet nations, with a huge population base we take education quite seriously for our young people.”
The Meet and Greet also provided Iikaisskini with a chance to connect with their students and understand the issues and problems they face.
“It helps us to understand what the student population is telling us. It helps me to understand what my own Indigenous community is asking me to provide. That leadership to provide support and guidance.”
Weaselhead says his work with Dr. Leroy Little Bear has provided experience and direction, along with the support of university presidents throughout the years.
 “I’ve been working with our president, Mike Mahon, for a number of years now and I’m proud of what the university has accomplished with regards to opening the doors.”
Iikaisskini has created a mentoring program, with partnership between influence mentoring and the University, giving students mentorship opportunities for post-secondary students and partnering students with mentors who work with them throughout the academic year gaining aid in many areas that can benefit their time in post secondary.
Shanda Webber, manager of strategic Indigenous learning initiatives, says the mentorship program creates connections across all of Canada.
“It’s really focusing on mentorship opportunities for our current post-secondary students. Although we launched it here, at the University of Lethbridge, it’s open to all post-secondary Indigenous students across Alberta and Canada.”
The Meet and Greet created opportunities for students to connect with Iikaisskini Services and learn more about the staff and services provided through the centre, while hoping to foster respect and appreciation in the community while connecting people with knowledge.
“I’m so proud as an Indigenous person, but I’m also so proud of the City of Lethbridge, the University, that they have stood up and acknowledged that that are part of this culture.”
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