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Awareness week showcases First Nations cultures

By Scott Strasser, March 8 2016 —

Aboriginal Awareness Week  takes place March 7–11 at the University of Calgary.

The week is an annual event organized by the First Nations Student Association (FNSA) with support from the U of C Native Centre.

The week began with the opening ceremony in MacHall on March 7. The ceremony featured traditional dancing and drumming.

“There’ll be a lot of interaction with students, because [the ceremony] will be in the south courtyard. There’ll be dancers and we’ll have a grand entry. It’ll be fun,” said FNSA leader Tylor Pavlik before the ceremony.

The rest of the week will feature a mix of cultural and educational events hosted in the Native Centre’s Red Lodge. Events include documentary showings, finger-weaving workshops and traditional food tasting. Each day of the week will centre on a specific First Nations group — Cree, Métis, Stoney and Blackfoot.

Pavlik said the week is a chance to showcase Indigenous culture.

“It’s a chance for students to have exposure to a culture that is essential to Canada, but one they may not actually have daily interaction with,” he said.

Other events include a discussion on the role of youth in the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations and a film about northern indigenous peoples adapting to modern life.

“The intent behind the events is to have access to students,” Pavlik said. “This is a chance for students to see we’re not exclusive. We’re about diversity and hopefully bringing awareness and understanding.”

The Native Centre will also host an aboriginal research panel led by First Nations graduate students on March 11.

Berna-Dean Holland will present her work at Friday’s panel. She does research on the behaviour of the yellow-bellied marmot.

“I’m very proud to say I’m a First Nations person doing science at the U of C,” Holland said. “In the sense of being a graduate student, I think we do need to encourage lots of other First Nations people to do science.”

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