Student representatives participate in the Racialized and Indigenous Students’ Experience summit in Toronto

By Everett Dorma Posted: March 25, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Student representatives Larissa Wahpooseyan, and Jermaine McKenzie.
Student representatives Larissa Wahpooseyan, and Jermaine McKenzie. Photo courtesy of Shinoah Young.

The Canadian Federation of Students brought student activists together from across the country for the first national Racialized and Indigenous Students’ Experience (RISE) summit held from March 19 – 21 in Toronto.

Larissa Wahpooseyan, a fourth year Business Administration student at First Nations University Canada and the Saskatchewan Chair for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) was excited to participate in the summit.

“The idea for this convention came up during the Federation’s National General Conference as a way to create a national vision to combat racism on campuses across Canada,” says Wahpooseyan. “The summit provided a safe environment for racialized and Indigenous students to gather and share their experiences and feelings.

“Efforts to address racism and Indigenize campuses are not always understood or accepted by some students and this forum provided us a chance to share our stories and develop strategies as allies in addressing racism.”

Jermaine McKenzie, a Faculty of Arts, International Language – Mandarin student and newly elected University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) President also attended the conference.

“I felt it was important to participate in the conference because of the huge change in demographics at the University, which has seen an increasingly diverse student population over the last few years,” says Mckenzie.  “We’re still behind in understanding minority groups and Indigenous students’ needs so attending the conference provided us with a better understanding of these needs and how we can improve relations on campus.”

Increasing the level of engagement between the student body and administration to create a much more inclusive and vibrant campus that will benefit not just the students or administration but the wider Regina community is a priority for McKenzie.

“The influx of international students and the efforts to Indigenize the University are extremely positive developments," says McKenzie. “Understanding how educational institutions in Canada, which are built on the colonial experience, can change to adapt to the needs of newcomers and Indigenous people, who still only access University in small numbers, is critical.”

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment in which members of the University community can live, work and learn in a collegial climate of mutual respect, free of harassment and discrimination. Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services provides programs and services for students, staff and faculty in dealing with all forms of harassment and discrimination.

Information on the University’s Indigenization efforts is available at: http://www.uregina.ca/president/indigenization/index.html.