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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
February 6, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Speech: AEC Co-Chair - Brenda Davis, Six Nations

March 21, 2011 Aboriginal Awareness Week Opening Ceremony – Laurier Brantford

March 21, 2011 Aboriginal Awareness Week Opening Ceremony – Laurier Brantford

Speech:  AEC Co-Chair - Brenda Davis, Six Nations.

Good Morning, Ladies and Gentleman, Students

Thank you for the opportunity to welcome you to the Opening Ceremonies of the Laurier Brantford Aboriginal Awareness Week.

I am chair of the Grand River Post Secondary Board at Six Nations of the Grand River.  I am also Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council of Wilfrid Laurier University with Max Blouw, President of the university. The fact that the president sits as co-chair of the AEC attests to the commitment of Laurier to supporting Aboriginal education at Laurier.  Not many, if any, post secondary institutions have the President as co-chair of their Aboriginal Education Councils.  The Council, in existence for almost a year now has seen great accomplishments.  One of which is this event.

First, I would like to acknowledge those who have organized this important event.  It is a first at this campus and an indication of Laurier Brantford’s commitment to First Nations, Inuit and Metis students. 

As you all know, this campus is close to one of the largest First Nations communities in Ontario, so the opportunity for a post secondary university education is at our doorstep.  At your doorstep are great opportunities to partner with Six Nations community organizations and members who can share their wisdom, history, knowledge and understanding of our culture, values, beliefs and aspirations. 

Our students will attend a post secondary institution where they feel welcome, supported, valued and respected; where there is opportunity for access to quality programs; where there are quality academic, social, emotional and financial support systems in place to support and retain them through to graduation.  This is the work of the Aboriginal Education Council of Laurier – to assist the university in providing these opportunities and services. 

The AEC is here to advise, collaborate and monitor what is happening with respect to Aboriginal Education within the institution.  And, to ensure that Ministry funds are used to implement strategies for Aboriginal students for access to quality programs, to ensure that systems are put in place to support students, academically, socially, emotionally and financially so that our students successfully graduate from their chosen programs.  The ultimate test of how successful Laurier University is will be increasing the number of successful Aboriginal graduates.

I would also like to acknowledge all those at Laurier who have worked to promote Aboriginal Education and perspectives within their programs and have supported our Aboriginal students, in particular, Lesley Cooper, Acting Principal, Laurier Brantford.

 With the multi-year funding from the Ministry of Education for Aboriginal Education at the Post Secondary level, and the recent release of the Aboriginal Post Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework, all universities and colleges in Ontario have the responsibility to do their part in providing programs and strategies to increase the graduation rate of Aboriginal students within Ontario and to close the gap. 

The framework sets out 3 major goals with strategies to accomplish these goals:

  • Postsecondary education and training environments are increasingly responsive to and respectful of the needs, choices and aspirations of Aboriginal learners.
  • An increasing number of Aboriginal learners achieve high levels of success in post secondary education and training.
  • An increasing number of Aboriginal learners have the skills and formal education required to more actively participate in the changing labour market.

It is the role of the Aboriginal Education Council to assist in the achievement of those goals and to monitor our progress toward those goals through key performance measures.

Most of all, I would also like to acknowledge all the Aboriginal students who have taken the opportunity to enrol at this campus and I commend you on your desire to get a post secondary education and wish you success in your chosen field. 

The Aboriginal Education Council of Laurier is here to support you and the university in developing programs and services to meet your needs.  We are fortunate to have Jean Becker, Senior Advisor:  Aboriginal Initiatives who has worked tirelessly over the last while to implement Laurier’s 3-year action plan. We also are fortunate to have Marnie Antoniow, Aboriginal Student Support Services Co-ordinator at this campus, and Melissa Ireland at the Waterloo campus, who are very recent additions to the team and are the first line of contact for student, staff and faculty. We also have three student reps on the AEC, Alicia Sayers, Kandice Baptiste and Courtney Skye.

As we go forward, there are plans in the making for a new Aboriginal Student Centre at Brantford, one has already opened at Waterloo, as well as other strategies to meet the needs of students. If you have ideas for improvement of services, I am sure that Marnie, Alicia or Courtney and Kandice and Melissa would love to hear them and bring them to the attention of the AEC.  Your input is welcome and necessary.

Thank you again for the opportunity, as co-chair of the Aboriginal Education Council of Laurier, to welcome you to the Laurier Brantford Aboriginal Awareness Week and to the share some information with you on their behalf. 

Enjoy the rest of the week’s activities!