I CHOSE Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig
Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Shingwauk Kinoomage Gamig incorporates land-based learning into its Bachelor degrees in Anishinaabe Studies and Anishinaabemowin, two unique programs in Ontario.
I came out of a 20-year employment and was told that I was at the top of my pay grade, so I thought I didn’t have any other option but to go back to school. At Shingwauk, I studied under Eddie Benton-Banai for two years, and it was amazing because he really made us think critically about our world views and to question who we are as Indigenous people.
Shingwauk offers land-based learning with Great Lakes Cultural Camps and it’s a really good opportunity to have programming that is different from your traditional background and university in general. The best time was last year when we had the maple syrup camp out. There were nights we stayed out until three or four in the morning talking and keeping the fire. One night we even got to drumming late at night, it was quite amazing. Here, we try to create a home because a lot of the students, like myself, are not from the area and having that support really provides that extra push to keep you engaged with and involved in your studies.
When I graduated from high school I went to college but I felt that I had certain needs that weren’t met there. I felt that there were a lot of gaps and I didn’t end up completing. Life took its course and led me down a path of activism and community-based work. I was elected chief and council, but I wanted to go further.
At first, I wondered why would I want to come to a place such as a former Indian residential school? There is this rich history that’s problematic, this legacy that exists, but it all came back to Chief Shingwaukonse’s vision – a place of learning where students like me can gain the knowledge to keep us grounded in our traditions and the skills to navigate the modern, changing world.
It’s really cool that I can go somewhere and continue to learn about Anishinaabe culture and practices, and learn the language, but also take courses that I will need in my career, like finance and accounting. It’s powerful to say, when I graduate, I will have a feather in one hand and a diploma in the other, and that’s part of my identity.
There is a lot of archival and historic material that is not known to the public, that isn’t known to First Nations and Indigenous peoples in this area. When I heard about the archive Shingwauk was building I knew I wanted to be a part of it and to really have it focus on materials about the history of the Great Lakes area. Since working on this project with Shingwauk, we’ve also received designation from the Assembly of First Nations to hold the National Chief’s Library, so we’ll be collecting records from the past national chiefs and housing them here.
What we’re doing is something special in regard to what Chief Shingwauk thought education should be for his people. Quite frankly, when it comes to First Nations history and Anishinaabe history it’s mostly about treaties and residential schools, but there is so much more that we need to share, like how our people fought for their rights in the early 1900s. There are documents to support that. We’re working to build that base of knowledge.
Location & Contact
Interested in exploring the
Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig campus?
Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (Head Office)
7 Shingwauk St.
Garden River First Nation, ON P6A 6Z8