BY NATALIA NAHON
Sheridan’s Aboriginal Initiatives Office has changed its name in an effort to be more inclusive.
Now called Centre for Indigenous Learning & Support Student Affairs, it drops the word “aboriginal” a term used by the federal government and picks up “indigenous”. The centre’s co-ordinator says this recognizes the fact that we are all indigenous to the land and gives a better understanding of First Nations and the office’s cause.
The term aboriginal “refers to the First Nations Inuit and Metis all in one. It is not a term used to understand the more than 600 First Nations in Canada and it does nothing to speak to the many varied Inuit and Metis Nations,” says Paula Laing, coordinator of the centre.
The transition aims to “create space for a more inclusive and composing type of dynamic, is moving from an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality towards a ‘we’ mentality,” says Mohammad Kumail, Community Outreach person of the centre.
Mohku, as he likes being called, emphasizes on the importance of the word indigenous. “I’m not necessarily aboriginal or First Nations to this land. My family migrated from Pakistan and India, but a guest teacher was helping us understand how we are all indigenous to the land to the earth, we all depend on the air, we all depend on the water.”
Changing the names is a big step forward inclusiveness and helps students to get a better understanding of First Nation. The office, located at D Wing, is a good space to “reconnect with what’s most important and build relationships with our piers, faculty and all the people that come to teach and learn.”