The Elders' Initiative ensures that Indigenous students and the college community can benefit from the knowledge and guidance of these important community members.
The Elders' Initiative ensures that all Indigenous students in the Indigenous College Prep, Indigenous Human Services Career Access, Indigenous Family Support, and Indigenous Studies programs have access to Elders weekly within their programs. The Initiative also ensures that all Indigenous students at Camosun, regardless of their program, have access to Elders' knowledge, teachings, and support.
Elders are available to any college employee (administrators, faculty, and staff). This Initiative is designed to help Elders participate more college-wide. Some examples of how this program can be accessed are:
- To have an Elder open your event with a welcome and/or acknowledgment of territory
- To have an Elder share knowledge in your classroom. For example, Elders have come in and talked about:
- Indian residential schools
- Traditional ways of being, knowing, and doing
- Medicine workshops
- Sweat lodge ceremonies
- Brushing off ceremonies
- Traditional knowledge workshops (weaving, knitting, etc.)
- On the land teaching (plant/medicine walks)
- To have an Elder attend or advise at a meeting
- Joining and/or facilitating circles (healing, talking, etc.)
Words cannot express how valuable having Elders in the classroom is. They make student experience so rich and they provide a level of comfort and support to the faculty, that for me, helps me to stand strong and to be accountable.
In many ways I am being trained, guided, mentored and for that I feel so blessed. They have authority and respect in the classroom and can provide direction and encouragement to our students, in a way that we (faculty) can’t. It’s a lovely balance and I have learned so much about the local community and Salish ways of being. To know the people of the land we are residing on and their ways helps us all to walk gently.
Another thing that I have become aware of in working with Elders is that we are giving them purpose and encouraging their healing process as well, which is so beautiful! I believe that the gifts that we give them and they give us are sacred and all a part of the vision we all carry around healing our community. It’s a win, win situation!
Sandee Mitchell, Faculty