Brandon University has launched a regular program to gather and share Indigenous knowledge. Called the Teaching House, the program will feature different topics and teachings approximately once a month.
“The Teaching House is the vision for a gathering place for the sharing of knowledge and teachings for all nations – created for connection, relationship and community. It is a place for students, staff and community,” says Cree Knowledge Keeper Susie McPherson-Derendy. “Initial events and conversations are a starting place that will help shape the Teaching House vision – inviting, including and involving many voices.”
While the first circles are being hosted virtually, including an Earth Day celebration just last week, the intent is to come back together for in-person gatherings to enjoy tea, bannock and celebration when it is safe to do so.
“Many people, including our students, have expressed how challenging social isolation can be and how much they desire connection and cultural teachings,” said Chris Lagimodiere, Director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre at BU, who noted that the past year and half required everyone to be adaptable and creative. “Creating those spaces has been quite challenging during the pandemic but we all recognized the importance of continuing to adapt and provide opportunities for faculty, staff, students and community to come together. The Teaching House is a great opportunity for that to happen.”
The Teaching House is an initiative of the BU Senate’s Indigenous Education sub-committee, which was struck to drive BU’s responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
Inspired by the works of Indigenous scholars Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt, as well as discussions with local knowledge-keepers and Elders, the Teaching House will meet in a way that reflects the 4 Rs — Respect, Relevance, Responsibility, and Reciprocity. Each session of the Teaching House brings community together to learn from one another, with initial teachings and circles led by local Indigenous knowledge keepers and Elders.
A Teaching House website at https://www.brandonu.ca/indigenous/resources/teaching-house-bu/ will keep the community informed about upcoming sessions. One for May is planned to honour graduates, and one for June will celebrate the summer solstice.
“We hope to continue to build this into a monthly event where many people feel comfortable to learn, engage, share, and build meaningful relationships,” Lagimodiere said. “Reconciliation is a process that includes everyone and it all starts with building positive relationships and trust. Events like the Teaching House create positive space where Indigenous knowledge is celebrated and shared.”
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