From last Thursday March 5, to Saturday, March 7, 2020, beautiful gatherings were held at the University of Sudbury to celebrate the movement of Anishinaabeg/Indigenous thought, heart, reality, and spirit in relation to the discipline of Indigenous Studies, and the contributions of key knowledge keepers and change-makers from across Turtle Island (North America) who had their beginnings at the University of Sudbury (U of S), particularly those who were at the forefront of the collective Indigenous revitalization and resurgence movement.
In the mid-1970s, Dr. Jim Dumont, Dr. Edna Manitowabi, Dr. Art Solomon-ba, Dr. Ed Newbery-ba, Dr. Thom Alcoze, Dr. Nahum Kanhai, and others who came through the doors of the U of Sudbury such as Dr. Mary Ann Corbiere, Dr. Emily Faries, Dr. Anthony Hall, Joyce Pitawanakwat, Lena Odjig-ba, Nicholas Deleary, Margaret Young, Maureen Manitowabi and Mary Recollet helped lay the foundation for not only the Department, but also for the discipline of Indigenous Studies at large.
Throughout this 3-day celebration, the individual and collective contributions of these distinguished knowledge keepers to Indigenous Studies and the Anishinaabeg Nation, which have had an impact locally, nationally, and internationally, were recognized. In addition, the 45th anniversary of the University of Sudbury’s Indigenous Studies Program was celebrated, gathering some of the many alumni, faculty, and staff who have been a part of this story. We honoured the past while looking ahead to the next 7 generations.
The celebrations began on Thursday, March 5th, with an Emeritus Professor Granting Ceremony for Dr. Jim Dumont & Dr. Emily Faries.
Dr. Jim Dumont helped build the Indigenous Studies department (then called Native Studies), serving as principal cultural advisor who designed and shaped the curriculum of the program. He was a full-time professor within this department from 1975, the year of its inception, to the year 2000. He dedicated over 25 years of his life to sharing important knowledge on Indigenous Intelligence to many, after playing a pivotal role in creating the department.
Dr. Emily Faries began at the U of S Indigenous Studies Department in 1995, and retired in June of 2019. Dr. Faries was instrumental in the James Bay project, which helped bring on-site postsecondary education to some of the James Bay Coast communities, allowing students to remain in their communities and near family. She helped develop curricula based on Indigenous cultural values, and she taught many of the on-site coastal courses - as well as courses at the University of Sudbury - traveling frequently. Dr. Faries is a quiet, undemonstrative person in most of her interactions, but very passionate when it comes to education of Indigenous people, having gone above-and-beyond her teaching duties and dedicating nearly 25 years of her life to this calling.
The celebrations continued on Friday, March 6th with a Day of Gathering, where Elders and Knowledge Keepers shared their stories, memories, and their wisdom.
The celebrations culminated with the gala held on Saturday, March 7th. It was catered by the award-winning Hiawatha’s, the first to open an Indigenous restaurant in Sudbury. The gala also boasted public figures Sarain Fox and Edward George as MC’s. A beautiful energy was present on Saturday evening as Elders, Knowledge-Keepers and some important pillars were recognized in various ways, such as with heartfelt words, Star Blankets and Eagle Feathers. The room was filled with honour, gratitude and joy.
We want to thank our sponsors such as Bob’s Smoke Shop, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, and Laurentian University (Indigenous Student Affairs and the Faculty of Arts), to name a few. See the full list of sponsors here
We also want to thank all those who played a role in making these 3 days a great success.