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Building relationships at Indigenous Homecoming. // Photo by Mike Latschislaw

Building community

Indigenous Homecoming speed networking event builds relationships five minutes at a time

September 18, 2017 — 

The Indigenous community at the University of Manitoba is strong. A focal point for this strength is Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge. It’s here where First Nations, Métis and Inuit students can find a welcoming home, make connections and access programs and services.  

The connections made here continue beyond graduation, as exemplified at the Indigenous Homecoming speed networking and lunch on Sept. 13 when students had the opportunity to meet U of M alumni, faculty, staff and community leaders to learn about various career paths, and get inspired by their successes.

“Indigenous Homecoming is a wonderful opportunity to engage with alumni who are part of our University community,” said Lynn Lavallée, Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement). “This year, we were able to bring alumni together with Indigenous students, as well as U of M faculty and staff, for fun and meaningful interactions that can grow opportunities and connections.”

The event began with brief addresses from President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard, Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement) Lynn Lavallée, director of the Indigenous Student Centre, Christine Cyr, and Métis MBA student Adam Nepon.

“Every year we have more to celebrate,” said President Barnard. “Every year we have new reasons to believe that we are moving toward the kind of future we seek to create by advancing reconciliation, building connections with Indigenous students, partners and communities, and furthering our commitment to Indigenous achievement.”

It was fitting that the event was on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly.

“This comprehensive strategy continues to be of great importance today as the journey to full equality for Indigenous peoples continues around the world and in our own country,” President Barnard said.

Then,  Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge was filled with buzzing energy where students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members paired-off in informal one-on-one conversations, to connect; learn about each other’s careers and interests; and discover each other’s challenges and successes.

This is what students had to say.

Morgan Hanson-Oliveira, 3rd year, Faculty of Arts

I think the speed networking event was very entertaining and incredibly inclusive. It gave staff, students, alumni, and guests the opportunity to both connect and reconnect with others in the room. The event allowed everyone to feel involved and was a great way to break the ice. I enjoyed this aspect of the Indigenous Homecoming and am happy I was able to experience this excitement with such a positive and welcoming community. 

I feel as though I was able to make connections with others who will contribute to my growth during my educational career. The event offered students a way to meet people who they may have not had the opportunity to speak to if not for the event, and it is these connections that can help students on the path to accomplishing their future successes. 

Charlene Hallett, 3rd year, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences

What a fun event! As students, we often just sit passively in the audience listening to administration, staff, or alumni speak about various subjects. This time though, we had the opportunity to take ‘getting to know others’ to a whole new interactive level, by getting out of our seats – and for some, out of our comfort zones – and speak face-to-face with a wide variety of interesting people. The event carried with it teachings of courage (approaching new people) and honesty (sharing a part of who we are and what we’re interested in), as well as learning to have a good sense of humour during new situations. I spoke to quite a few fantastic people who work both on and off campus, and I might never have had that chance otherwise. Chi-miigwech (big thank you) to the staff at the Indigenous Student Centre (ISC) for the many fun, relative, and creative ways they continually support students. They consider what we’d benefit from, and then work to provide opportunities such as this, for networking and professional development. I would love to do this again!”

Chelsey Hill, 2nd year U1

Indigenous Homecoming was an unexpected surprise because I was asked to participate that morning. I enjoyed meeting everybody and networking with Indigenous alumni was inspiring. I appreciate that the university puts events like this on – it makes students feel like they matter.

The University of Manitoba is home to 2,400 First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, one of the largest Indigenous student populations in Canada, including over 200 graduate students.

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