Indigenous ServicesStudent Experience

Wampum Model & Guiding Principles


Indigenous Services Guiding Principles

Through a unique and vibrant community of Indigenous peoples and values, IS takes a strength-based approach to supporting Indigenous students’ self-determination through a spirit of helping and serving through Indigenous ways.

Academic Excellence means taking full responsibility for one’s educational journey, honouring commitments, and learning from every experience.

Balance involves the establishment of personal and professional relationships, as well as a sense of holistic health and well-being.

Collaboration requires the building of healthy friendships, networks, and partnerships reaching out for positive supports, and working together as a community.

Diversity recognizes the ways in which people differ individually and through social groups, and accepts and values diverse experiences, ideas, perspectives, and values.

Equity & Inclusion recognizes that peoples’ experiences are shaped by many social factors – making equity initiatives often necessary to eliminating barriers and promoting equal access in education. Inclusive education also recognizes that people thrive when they see themselves reflected in their learning, surroundings, and broader environment.

Interconnection recognizes the significance of every human relationship inclusive of all Creation across seven generations.

Personal & Cultural Identity recognizes and supports the significance of knowing one’s history, worldview, spiritual practices, and finding strength in one’s personal, cultural and community story.

Respect requires active listening, self-reflection, personal humility, and full appreciation of all living beings within the circle of life and natural environment.

Key Terms

Self-Determination means reclamation of our personal and professional decision making capacity as the Original Peoples of Turtle Island.

Strength-Based Approach - Indigenous Services supports and promotes strength-based expressions of Indigenous Knowledge, academic purpose and goals, and cultures and languages across all learning communities at Western University.

Background on the Wampum

The inspiration for Indigenous Services (IS) Wampum Belt design embedded within the new Indigenous Service graphic design, and service delivery model arose from Indigenous students who were tasked to design a graphic element as part of a combined work-study position and coursework through the First Nations Studies program. Through the creative and consultative process, the students were compelled to revitalize the longstanding practice of creating and using a Wampum agreement as a way to govern inter-relationships in Indigenous Services, Student Development Centre at Western University.

What is a Wampum?

Since time immemorial, Wampum Belts have been used by diverse Indigenous groups across Turtle Island.  Wampum Belts are traditionally made of quahog shells carefully woven together through intricate designs and beads that symbolically represent shared values and understandings between two or more parties; ranging from the simplest agreement between two people to much larger more complicated agreements between nations.

Through research, engagements with Indigenous Elders, students, faculty, and staff, Indigenous Services has revised its Vision, Mission, Mandate, and Guiding Principles incorporating our own Wampum agreement, which is a commitment from Indigenous Services to support Indigenous students through a strength-based approach to self-determination. This philosophical approach of working together with students toward their academic goals is symbolically exemplified in our Wampum design and model, and the Belt’s 8 beads which stand for our guiding principles/values.

About the Creators

Lori Nicholas and Jason George are alumni of Western University, during their time here they shared their idea that was brought to life through our Wampum. Lori is Haudenosaunee from Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Jason is Pottawatomi from Stony Point (Aazhoodena).  They are loving parents to two beautiful daughters, and both very active in the local Indigenous community at Western University. We are forever grateful for this amazing contribution. 

Jason George and family