January – March
The UWAG gallery hosted Sovereign Acts: The History of Indigenous Peoples from Jan. to Mar. 10. Artists presented works drawn from media depictions of Indigenous people to highlight the appropriation of Indigenous peoples and cultures in popular media.
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, author and Anishinaabe member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, presented her book, The Stone Collection, as part of the Indigenous Speakers Series on Jan. 24. “I think since I’ve started writing, I’ve had this hope,” Akiwenzie-Damm said. “This dream, that those words are going to reach back to our communities.”
Susan Hill, Indigenous author and professor presented her book, The Clay We are Made of, in Feb. 2018. She emphasized the importance of understanding the land that Waterloo is built upon, knowing the history of how it came to be, and being grateful that we are here. “[Land] is passed down to you, and you therefore have responsibility for it,” Hill said.
The Indigenous Student Association (ISA) hosted an event aimed at understanding the meaning of Indigenization at St. Paul’s University College on Nov. 14. The Truth and Reconciliation Commision (TRC) from 2015 had specific recommendations for universities concerning funding, requirements for childhood education programs, and hiring Indigenous staff and faculty. Heather George, executive member of the ISA, emphasized the importance of awareness to reach truth, which will lead to reconciliation.
“I want to talk,” was the cry made by many individuals during a walk-out for Mental Health awareness on Mar. 8. Nearly 200 students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Arts Quad in the wake of the death of a fourth-year student. “We want to listen,” they would respond. The event was meant to draw attention to the dire situation of mental health on campus.
The Committee on Student Mental Health (Co-SMH) hosted the Student Mental Health Forum on Oct. 31 as part of Thrive Week. The panel reported on the progress of the university on the recommendations of the PAC-SMH – 44 per cent of which are completed or in progress. In addition, the Okanagan Charter, which is a statement of the value placed on mental health in UW and universities across Canada, was signed during the panel.
Co-op fees raised
At the beginning of 2018, the fee for co-op was raised for the second time in four years. Despite an increase in the number of co-op students and revenue, the fee increase was attributed by Co-op Education as “incremental costs.” Students protested this decision vigorously, and said they found it unclear, especially with a lack financial review and plans from Co-op Education. The Canadian Government legalized marijuana on Oct. 17. Although this decision is historical, it does not change the atmosphere much – even when it was illegal, Canadians had little trouble accessing marijuana. Until April 2019, the only legal source for Cannabis in Ontario is the Ontario Cannabis Store website. Students are not allowed to order to their dorms or smoke it, but they can consume edibles on campus. UW is examining the issue further. Still, this definitely counts as a victory for Mary Jane against The Man.
On Dec. 17, the Federation of Students (Feds) announced the closure of the Bombshelter Pub, which has been iconic in the UW community after four decades. The sudden announcement saw many students and staff of the Bomber out of work shortly before the holiday season. Feds said that the move was fiscally responsible, but some students felt that the situation could have been handled differently. Future plans for the pub are uncertain and few answers are available. Feds will be conducting research and consultations over the Winter semester to generate ideas and more concrete plans.