Main menu


Welcoming gathering at Indigenous Health Education Lodge celebrates transformative new space - Daily News

Interpretive dance performances, organized by JP Longboat of Circadia Indigena, began with the Jingle dance. (All photos by Georgia Kirkus/McMaster University).

Ahead of National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30, a welcome meeting was held at the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge (IHLL), also known as Tsi nón: We ayakonniyóhake táhnon aonsayakota’karitehake (place of good life and back to health) and Mino Bimaadiziwin Mishkiki Aapjishnik Gamik (Life good; place of recovery medicine).

Bernice Downey expressed how important the Welcome Gathering is, as a get-together and “a high point in the relationships that are created, both within college and across the university, in celebration of our indigenous ways of knowing, our culture, and partying” to our songs. “

On this important evening at L.R. Wilson Hall, the current Executive Director of International Humanitarian Law, Laurie Davis Hill, spoke about the Path to Indigenous Health Learning Lodge, dedicated to Indigenous education and curriculum, student support and services, and the Indigenous way of knowing that fosters a collaborative relationship Ongoing with Go di we na wa she / Shkaabewis – Knowledge Assistants and Their Networks.

The Lodge also focuses on promoting awareness and cultural safety skills for non-Indigenous learners, faculty, staff, and community members.

Here are the highlights of the welcome gathering at L.R. Wilson Hall.

The welcome gathering at The Indigenous Health Learning Lodge opened with a Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving speech by Tehahenteh (Frank) Miller, teacher and holder of knowledge from the Six Nations of the Grand River.

An aboriginal knowledge keeper stands on stage holding a hand drum

Teaching by the custodian of indigenous knowledge, Nysitang Lise Aquinzi, included the performance of the hand drum.

Two women standing on stage and greeting each other.  One hand to the other a piece of smooth stone

Dr. Bernice Downey, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, College of Health Sciences, presents Chancellor Santi Smith with a carved soapstone gift.

Gray dressed woman standing on stage, smiling, addressing crowd on stage microphone

Chancellor Santi Smith acknowledged “all the work that went into creating, seeing and planning this space called Learning Lodge”. She said, “It will be a site at McMaster for Transformation, a safe place for Aboriginal and Allied people to discuss truly important topics of health and well-being, connection and belonging and to fuel ongoing research and collaboration.”

Two women standing on stage talking to the audience

Wahsonti Chair of the Knowledge Assistance Advisory Board: io Hill has the support of Bernice Downey as she celebrates her mother and talks about the importance of IHL for spiritual and emotional support in an Aboriginal way.

A man standing on stage holding a Wambum

Dr. Rick Montour, Associate Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies and one of McMaster’s first Indigenous faculty, shares teachings about the Wambum Belt Agreements to promote good relationships.

A dancer raises one arm while performing an interpretive dance

Interpretive dance performances included an eagle dance by JP Longboat of Circadia Indigena.

Interpretive dance performances included an eagle dance by JP Longboat of Circadia Indigena

Circadia Indigena is made up of professional and community artists from a variety of Indigenous communities who bring their artistic expertise, experience and knowledge to projects of a cultural, collaborative and creative nature.

A woman standing on a stage and addressing a crowd through a podium microphone

Lori Davis Hill thanks the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge team and partners who helped organize the inaugural event.

Three classmates laughing in conversation in LR Wilson Lounge

David Farrar, President of McMaster University, Bernice Downey, and Mark Crowther, Chair of the Department of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, enjoy a welcoming reception.

A group of five colleagues smiling in front of the camera, enjoying a reception after an event in the lobby of L.R. Wilson

Left to Right: Laurie Davis-Hill, Dr. Chelsea Gable, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Well-Being, Community Participation, and Innovation, Indigenous Scientists, Dr. Rick Montour, Dr. Rena Watchman, and Dr. Robert Innes, Chair of the Division of Indigenous Studies.

Two friends smiling at the camera

McMaster Chancellor Santee Smith with Dr. Stephen Hanna, Vice Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies (Health Sciences).

Two colleagues smiling for the camera in LR Wilson's lobby

Tehinte Miller, with Bernice Downey, emphasized giving thanks and showing regards, love and respect to all. In the same spirit, the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge is a safe place where everyone is invited and welcomed.

Three adults and one child enjoy conversation and snacks at a reception in LR Wilson's lobby

About the event, Downey said, “I am amazed because when I can sit in an institution and see our own culture, our dancers and our singers, it moves. It causes me. It makes the space safe for me. I feel happy just to have the opportunity to bring together all these wonderful people” .

In 2017, McMaster University College of Health Sciences began collaborative work with partners on and off campus to develop a comprehensive Indigenous health initiative, in order to better integrate Indigenous cultural knowledge into educational and research programmes. The Indigenous Health Learning Lodge was born out of that process and intention to make a welcoming place for everyone to walk the path of reconciliation together, ensuring the health, safety and well-being of Indigenous people.

Learn more about the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge, as well as events taking place on and before September 30th, on their website. Classes at McMaster are canceled on September 30, providing the campus community with time to reflect on broader issues of truth and reconciliation.

See also the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Integrity Training Program.