Indigenous Services @UWO

The other day I was asked to write a testimonial for a pamphlet that was being created for my university: The University of Western Ontario but more specifically, for Indigenous Services on campus.

I asked how many words and I knew that it wasn’t going to be very big. So, when I was told 60-70 words I wasn’t surprised. However, I knew that I had to write a post on Indigenous Services on Campus.

I have written about this sort of stuff before like in “I get everything for free!” or “Just because I am First Nations.” This stuff being a First Nations person and the misconception that the tools put in place to help us be successful are there just because we get it for free or in stereotypical thinking, that First Nations people get everything handed to them. We don’t. Tools, programs, etc are put in place for certain groups, not just First Nations people, because they help individuals be successful. Just like First Nations or Indigenous services/centers are put in place at post-secondary institutions are put in place to help FN students be successful.

I can’t say that I have been successful in school because it is entirely independent on my own personal drive and my own personal goals. That is part of it but not all. From elementary school to high school to college to university, there has always been someone on campus to be there to help me whether it be just one individual who came in on certain days or called in for special appointments or an entire centre dedicated to FN students. These centers and the individuals that work there are the places that help students to be successful.

At the Indigenous Services on campus on UWO, there are plenty of things that have helped to be successful in my first year. For instance, the Indigenous counsellors who I have used on more than one occasion. These Indigenous counsellors I am more than thankful for because a regular counsellor may not understand certain issues I am facing or may not be able to provide the help that I am looking for. For example, one day I went in to go talk specifically to the Indigenous counsellor. I didn’t have any classes that day, so I went in there to literally just to talk to that one person. After talking to this counsellor and building that relationship with her, I was able to feel comfortable enough to say that I needed different kind of help. The help that a non-Indigenous counsellor may not understand. I needed some cultural/traditional guidance. I need this type of guidance because I wanted that help. That help reminded me of the place that makes me feel most comfortable, most at ease, and most relaxed and that place is home and with family. A non-Indigenous counsellor would not be able to help me with the cultural/traditional guidance that I need. That day the Indigenous counsellor provided me with some great cultural guidance that I am able to remember to this day that helps me and just like another did they were able to provide me traditional teachings. So how did these visits help me to be successful? Well just like any other person that uses their own beliefs or values to help them get them through a hard time or through the day, these were the things that I knew I needed and that helped me to get through the rest of the day.

I think this is the major difference between the other centers/services that are set up to help students be successful.

There are other centers on campus that are set up to help students to be successful like Learning Skills Services, International and Exchange Student Centre, Writing Support Centre, Psychological Services, Students with Disabilities… all of which can be found on this website: Student Development Centre. These different services within this centre are there because they work for students and help students to be successful. Because even as the website reads,

The Student Development Centre is home to a variety of services specially designed to meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students on campus. Our staff members are highly trained and experienced professionals who know what campus life is all about

Indigenous Services is there not because “Natives get everything for free” or “Natives get handouts,” it is there because it helps students to be successful…just like all the other services dedicated to different groups of students.

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