I have personally worked very closely with Kakwiranoron Cook, director of First People’s House at McGill University. McGill’s First Peoples’ House provides a sense of community and a voice to Indigenous students who have left their home communities in order to pursue higher education. They also extend themselves to Secondary schools with Aboriginal you to come to McGill to get a taste of University life by providing Doctor For A Day workshops and bringing in various Aboriginal speakers. Many of my students loved the activities provided by the First People’s House and felt a sense of belonging before even entering McGill University.
While in Montreal, I worked closely with the First Peoples’ House. The first people house provides a “home away from home” for Aboriginal students who are studying at McGill. They bring in speakers, perform workshops and also serve as a resource centre not only for students who are currently at McGill but also for prospective McGill students, as well as Aboriginal high school students from neighbouring reserves. I used to bring my students to the annual powwow and this organization focused on post-secondary retention as well as promoting Aboriginal culture to all students at McGill.
I was introduced to Inuit throat singing at one of these events and I also loved that my students got to experience campus life of a Canadian university. Many of my students did not have any members of their family attend a post-secondary establishment and these experiences that the First Peoples’ House presented them with showed my students that there they can attend university and not feel alone.