On September 13, 2022, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s (UTM) Indigenous Centre hosted their Tipi Raising event in conjunction with the UTM Indigenous Student Meet and Greet. Both events were held on the lawn in front of the Maanjiwe nendamowinan building from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The program allowed UTM students to experience the traditional practice of tipi raising and connect with members of the Indigenous Centre. In an email to participants, Jessica Tabak, Indigenous Student Support Specialist at the Indigenous Centre, stated that the tipi raising was “done traditionally and lead by the Director of U of T’s First Nations House, Michael White.”
“The tipi raising is another step forward in space-making for Indigenous Peoples and traditions on the UTM campus,” UTM’s Indigenous Centre said in an email interview with The Medium. “The tipi, which will be in place until April 2023, will be bookable, and will be used for ceremonies, teaching, and programming.”
The practice of raising tipis is an important process. Building the tipi begins by placing wooden poles into the ground. Then, the canvas is attached to the poles by pulling the fabric tight around the wooden structure.
According to Indigenous traditions, the floor of the tipi represents our earth, the walls the sky, and the wooden poles our connection from the earth to the spirit world. Tipis provide refuge, sanctuary, and a space for communities to forge connections through ceremonies and teachings.
The Tipi Raising event is one of many initiatives at UTM that assists Indigenous students in maintaining their cultural ties. Students can learn more about Indigenous cultures through the Indigenous Centre, which offers many resources for students, faculty, and staff, as well as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members.
Likewise, the centre is actively collaborating with faculty and staff, as well as with tri-campus organizations such as the Indigenous Creation Studio and the Centre for Student Engagement to represent Indigenous culture at UTM and to facilitate guest lectures and other educational programs.
Tabak highlights the Indigenous Centre’s relationship with the Wecheehetowin Report by stating: “This Report outlines the University’s response to the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada] and illustrates ways in which we can promote the visibility of Indigenous culture physically, emotionally, and spiritually on campus.”
Through events organized by the Indigenous Centre, the UTM community can begin to address the six areas of reconciliation outlined by the report: creating Indigenous spaces, hiring Indigenous faculty and staff, implementing Indigenous curriculum, acknowledging Indigenous research ethics and building community relationships, supporting Indigenous students and co-curricular education, and implementation and close monitoring of any recommendation acted upon by the university administration.
Events organized at UTM that educate and celebrate Indigenous culture, both on and off campus, are open to all students. Prospectively, through the participation in these activities and by recognizing the cultural importance of Indigenous traditions, students can help foster an inclusive environment that invites each and every eager student to embrace and express their unique cultural ties.
Editor-in-Chief (Volume 48 & 49) | firstname.lastname@example.org — Liz is completing a double major in Chemistry and Art History. She previously served as Features Editor for Volume 47, and Editor-in-Chief for Volume 48. Liz is extremely excited to have spent her time as an undergrad at The Medium, and can’t wait to inspire others and be inspired in her final year at UTM. When she’s not studying, working, writing, or editing countless articles, you can find her singing Motown hits at her piano, going on long walks by the lake, or listening to music. You can connect with Liz on her website, Instagram, or LinkedIn.