Official opening of the Indigenous Learning Space at Western University

Media are invited to attend the opening of the new Indigenous Learning Space at Western University on Monday, Nov. 7.  Dedicated to Indigenous teaching and learning, the space will be a home-place for Indigenous students and Indigenous initiatives at Western and will bring Indigenous ways of being and knowing to campus.

The space is located in the former library of the John G. Althouse Building at the Faculty of Education which is known for its distinctive round shape.

The retrofitted space was designed by Wanda Dalla Costa of Saddle Lake First Nation, Canada’s first female Indigenous architect, and incorporates design features that reflect a connection with the earth, nature, the equinox and the four cardinal points which hold great significance in many Indigenous worldviews. Indigenous artwork and language are featured throughout.

The space also features a medicine garden dedicated to revitalizing Indigenous agricultural and medicinal knowledge, and an outdoor ceremonial space sheltered by an arbor inspired by a traditional Haudenosaunee lacrosse stick basket.

Media are invited to attend the following opening events:

Media tour and interviews
Monday, Nov. 7
10 to 11 a.m.

Media will have an opportunity to tour the space and conduct interviews.

Honour dancers, naming ceremony and opening remarks
Monday, Nov. 7
1 to 3:15 p.m.

1 p.m. – Honour dancers
2:10 p.m. – Elder Council remarks
2:30 p.m. – Official opening remarks
3:15 p.m. – Building name reveal

*Please note photography and videography are not permitted during the pipe ceremony with Elder Bruce Elijah

Oak tree presentation
Tuesday, Nov. 8
3 p.m.

Join us in the Indigenous Learning Space for a discussion about the White Oak “cookie slices” that are featured prominently on the walls of the space. An interactive story map has been developed to introduce this tree and allow guests to see “through the eyes of the Oak.” With Lauren September Poeta, project associate in Western’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and David Goldblum, associate professor in the department of geography and environment.

Please contact Crystal Mackay to confirm your attendance and to arrange interviews with Christy Bressette, vice-provost and associate vice-president (Indigenous Initiatives); Paula Hedgepeth, Office of Indigenous Initiatives community relations and space coordinator; Wanda Dalla Costa, architect; and Indigenous community elders who consulted on the space.

MEDIA CONTACT: Crystal Mackay, associate director, Media Relations, Western University; 519-933-5944 (mobile);

Western University is located on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Chonnonton Nations, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) whom we recognize as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors of our society.