All Nations Gathering brings communities together

by | Mar 14, 2019 | Campus News, News

Madeline Jafarnejad, News Reporter

Every day Humber College students walk in the tracks of Indigenous ancestors but only once a year does the whole school join together to celebrate this at the annual All Nations Gathering.

Smiles, tradition and a strong sense of community spirit made the North campus come to life through song, dance and art thanks to the school’s Aboriginal Resource Centre.

The college is named after the Humber River which stretches across the land called Adoobiigok, now known as Etobicoke. According to Humber College’s website, Adoobiigok is an Ojibwe Anishinaabe word meaning “the Place of the Elders.”

Montana, a Men’s Fancy Shawl Dancer, performs a solo at the All Nations Gathering at Humber College on March 12. (Madeline Jafarnejad)

A land acknowledgment is recognized at every event at Humber College and this time it was said by Shelley Charles, Dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement, at the the beginning of the powwow.

For Regina Hartwick, Aboriginal Manager for Student Success and Engagement at Humber, the best part of organizing a gathering on campus is having everyone together in one place.

“It’s just that gathering part of it,” she said. “Seeing the faculty, staff, students and the whole community gather together.”

As the powerful drum songs came to a stop, stories about the people who once inhabited the land an audience now stands on were shared verbally and through song and dance.

For some of the dances around the drum, even non-Indigenous members of the community were encouraged to leave their seats and join.

“I love how all of the different communities come together,” said Shelley Bennett, a Fancy Shawl Dancer.

“Just being able to have fun, seeing a bunch of smiles and the joy that it brings people,” Bennett said. “That’s my favorite part.”

Shirley Bennett dances and shows off her colourful regalia at the All Nations Gathering at Humber College on March 12. (Madeline Jafarnejad)

The dancers wore colorful and vibrant traditional clothing called regalia decorated in eagle feathers, porcupine quills and bells.

The meanings of dancers’ regalia were explained in detail during the gathering. Different kinds of dancers included men’s Traditional, Grass and Fancy, and women’s Traditional, Jingle Dress and Fancy Shawl.

The gathering not only gives students the chance to embrace their culture but it allows them to connect with other members of the Indigenous community.

James Wilson, a second year Social Service Worker student at Humber, said being a part of organizing the All Nations Gathering allows students to learn and talk to elders that they may not otherwise have access to.

“You get to see so much laughter and happiness, ” said Kevin Vose-Landivar, a coordinator at the Aboriginal Resource Centre.

“People who are proud of their identity, being who they are and proudly representing that,” he said.