Who Are We?

Indigenous Services (IS), a part of Student Experience at Western University, is committed to supporting Indigenous students in reaching their highest potential through a culturally-responsive space, programs, and services that honour Indigenous cultures and languages, foster Indigenous presence and inclusion, and increase Indigenous access, engage Indigenous communities, and facilitate transition, retention, graduation and advancement of Indigenous students at Western. IS staff members provide assistance through services and counselling by drop-in and appointment. Specialized resources focusing on Indigenous issues in areas concerning academic, cultural and social needs are available; including career and employment opportunities and training/workshops. IS also offers study space, quiet areas, gathering space, a computer lab, printing services, and kitchen facilities; with after hours access for registered students. To register for the IS Centre please fill out our user agreement form.

Vision

Indigenous students are nourishing their Learning Spirits, actively engaging in the Western community through Indigenous Knowledge exchanges, fostering lifelong learning, and shaping leaders of tomorrow.

Purpose

Inspire Indigenous students to realize their full potential through a culturally responsive space, services, and advocacy that encourage wholistic and strength-based approaches to learning.

Goals

  1. Increase Indigenous presence and inclusion across the University;
  2. Increase Indigenous outreach, access, and engage Indigenous communities;
  3. Increase Indigenous student transition, retention, graduation and advancement.

Collaborative Approach to Indigenous Student Support

Indigenous Services collaborative model recognizes that it takes a shared approach to supporting Indigenous students in their academic journey. In collaboration with University partners and Indigenous communities within and outside the institution, Indigenous Services aims to nurture cooperative relationships based on mutual respect.

The collaborative model uses the back of a turtle shell to illustrate the cycle of work and key players involved. The turtle shell also exemplifies Indigenous ways of knowing as the foundation for working respectfully with Indigenous communities and in a culturally-relevant way within the institution.

The areas of significance embedded in the collaborative model cycle are: Vision, Mission, and Wholistic Program & Services; Indigenous Services three goals; and finally, evaluation.

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Wampum Model and Guiding Principles

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Background on the Wampum

The inspiration for Indigenous Services (IS) Wampum Belt design embedded within the 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 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 eight 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 Bodéwadmi 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. 

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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 wholistic 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 - the 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.