By: MATTHEW EVANGELISTA
Conestoga’s Cultural Diversity Week kicked off Oct. 17 with the beating of a drum. This, according to Myeengun Henry, manager of the college’s Aboriginal Services department, symbolized “the four nations’ relationship existing forever in this land of the creator.”
Henry said the four nations are the four people of the land: white, black, yellow and red.
Henry and Laura Black, the Student Life programmer of community initiatives, addressed a packed atrium, both upper and lower levels, on Oct. 17, discussing improving relations with the First Nations people of Conestoga. Henry spoke about the importance of First Nations’ rights and history while also promoting the new native studies course he now teaches at the college. He used four drum beats to represent the four nations coming together in his closing speech.
Cultural Diversity Week is hosted once a semester by Student Life and Conestoga Students Inc. Events run all day throughout the week in The Venue and the lower atrium. The events are designed for students passing through so they can grab some international food and enjoy the entertainment, which included traditional dance and song.
“We also acknowledge that there are many communities that experience marginalization, discrimination, and oppression,” said Black, “and in partnership with our Respect Campaign I will continue to strive to be an ally for other community members’ stigma and inequity.”
Conestoga educates more than 2,000 international students representing over 78 countries. The week promotes more than just fun activities and delicious food, it also allows international students to feel welcomed in the community by wearing their traditional garb.
Around the school at booths, students could strike up casual conversation with international students coming from many different countries, from South Africa to central and eastern Asia. Conestoga supports the diversity that their international students bring to the school, and its local students take something away from the week.
Other events included a turban tying, a free film screening of HUMAN and a First Nations elder teaching circle.
Diversity at Conestoga is not limited to a single week. In addition there are international CSI clubs and events. Students are encouraged to strike up a conversation with a fellow international Condor or to visit Henry in the Aboriginal Services office to get to know the cultures of our world a little better.