RBC Aboriginal Mentorship Day of Welcome salutes students
January 22, 2015
It’s not every day you are exposed to powerful sounds of drumming, a traditional homemade breakfast, and an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture at your place of work or learning.
The Aboriginal welcome event at NorQuest College, sponsored by the RBC Aboriginal Mentorship Program, featured just that.
“You don’t often get to see the culture and seeing it at the event was cool,” says Dominique Sovdi, a student in the college’s Hospital Unit Clerk program. “It was neat that we get to see it in our school.”
Held January 14, the salute began with a pipe ceremony in the Aboriginal Ceremonial Room. It continued in the Student Activity Centre with a group of drummers (Young Cree Singers) initiating a prayer referred to as the drum song.
“When we sing the drum song, we honour our Creator, Mother Earth, and all living things,” says Lloyd Cardinal, academic upgrading student. “The heartbeat of the drum signifies the gift of life. For example, a child spends nine months in the womb listening to the heartbeat of their mother. Naturally every person is connected to the drum.”
Elder Jerry Saddleback welcomed guests to Treaty 6 territory, expressed gratitude to organizers and students, and offered a smudge and prayer to bless the food.
“Events like these are important for welcoming Aboriginal students back to school,” says Monica Janvier, business administration student and an Aboriginal mentor who helped organize the event. “It helps with the transition back into their education, and it’s a way for us to stay in touch with our roots and traditions, and what the elders have taught us.”
“We’d like to thank RBC,” says Cindi Berg, senior development officer. “Without their support, this event would not have been possible.”
Aboriginal etiquette varies depending on teachings. For guidelines on photos, videos, clapping, and other etiquette, the best thing to do is ask the organizers or those involved prior to an event.