Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) was awarded the 2017 Equity and Inclusivity Award by the University’s Status of Women and Equity Committee.
Shawn Johnston, the events coordinator at WAEC, said it was “nice to be honoured for all the work we’ve done with the communities over the years, because we have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of groups on and off campus.”
“The services we offer is primarily for students that identify as aboriginal. But the space is a community centre and it is a space for everyone and we won’t turn people away because they’re not aboriginal” explained Johnston.
The centre hosts a soup lunch, which is free, every Thursday September – April, and a soup lunch on the last Thursday of every month May – August.
Johnston seemed amazed at the growth of the centre, pointing out, “three or four years ago [they] only had 3 students accessing [the] space, had very little programming, and maybe 10 people attending our soup lunches. Now [they] have a core 30 aboriginal students coming for dinner on a regular basis. Now [they] serve an average of 100 people every soup lunch every Thursday. That tells you how much [they’ve] grown over the years, because of the support from the Waterloo community.”
According to Johnston, their “largest soup lunch served over 200 people in one lunch. If you look at the crowd that comes for our lunch it’s a very diverse group. People from all different nations, all different backgrounds, sitting together and eating. People such as professors, faculty staff, students, sitting around and having a meal together and engaging in conversation.”
“Don’t be afraid to get involved, whether you’re looking to volunteer – you don’t have to be aboriginal to get involved. A lot of programs we host at the center are open to all students. We’re always looking for people to help us out. Don’t be afraid to visit our space and come by say hello,” encouraged Johnston.
The next soup lunch is on May 25, 2017.