In pictures: Spring Convocation celebrates Class of 2024

convocation

Spring Convocation for York University’s Class of 2024 ran from June 7 to 21, and featured ceremonies at both the Keele and Glendon campuses.

This year’s Spring Convocation began on June 7 with a ceremony at York University’s Glendon Campus, and continued with a dozen more in the following weeks at the Keele Campus. More than 7,000 graduands received their degrees during ceremonies overseen by the 14th chancellor of York University, Kathleen Taylor.

View photos from the Class of 2024 ceremonies below:

York Spring Convocation Class of 2024

York U student research reveals importance of native shrubs to wildlife

Joshua trees in the desert pexels

A research paper by master’s student Ethan Owen, from York University’s Faculty of Science, was recently published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation. Titled “The importance of native shrubs on the distribution and diversity of reptiles and amphibians in the central drylands of Southwestern USA,” Owen’s first-ever published study involved scouring 43 sites across California’s deserts with his team to understand how the density of native shrubs affects local wildlife.

Armed with high-resolution satellite images and citizen science data sourced from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) – an international, open-access network and data infrastructure funded by the world’s governments – the researchers set out to uncover hidden patterns in these rugged landscapes.

The team’s findings showed that areas with higher shrub density had significantly more abundant, rich, and diverse reptile and amphibian communities, proving the shrubs are indispensable for the creatures’ survival by creating microhabitats that offer cooler temperatures and crucial hiding spots.

Mojave Desert sidewinder (venomous) with foundational shrub Larrea tridentata in the background.

“These shrubs are more than just plants; they are lifelines,” explains Owen. “In the central drylands of California, they provide essential shelter, food, and protection for a variety of reptile and amphibian species, helping them survive the extreme conditions.”

But the study didn’t stop at counting reptiles and amphibians. Owen’s team looked at different levels of aridity to see if the relationship held up. “It was fascinating to see that regardless of how dry the area was, the presence of these shrubs consistently boosted the diversity and abundance of the local wildlife,” he says. “It really underscores their importance in these arid ecosystems.”

Owen believes the implications of this research are profound, offering valuable insights for conservationists and land managers alike. “By maintaining and promoting native shrub species, we can support biodiversity, even in the face of climate change,” he says.

As the natural world continues to suffer the consequences of global warming, Owen hopes that research like his will serve as a reminder that even small interventions – like protecting existing shrubs or planting new ones – can have significant positive impacts on the health and diversity of the Earth’s ecosystems.

John Ralston Saul urges graduands to be engaged citizens

John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul, an award-winning essayist and novelist who is often referred to as one of Canada’s leading thinkers, received an honorary degree from York University during a June 19 convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

“It’s amazing looking around at all the faces and thinking about the future,” Saul said after approaching the podium and taking a moment to acknowledge the number of graduands around him. Then, he explained how this large convocation ceremony is representative of a major shift in Canadian society that he believes requires addressing.

“We are the best educated society in the history of the world – Canada, in particular,” he explained. “And we’ve gradually evolved over 100 or so years … from a small, educated elite to the conviction that everyone has to have a serious education.”

To loud cheers from the crowd, he argued that undergraduate education should be well-enough funded to eliminate the need for student loans, debts and hardship.

Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, John Ralston Saul, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.
Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, John Ralston Saul, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

Saul then commended the graduands for the years of hard work that led them to this particular moment, but he cautioned that hard work of a different kind now awaited them.

“You, for better or worse, are graduating into tough times. There’s no point in pretending that isn’t the case,” Saul said. “We live in an era of uncertainty where democracy is being threatened, authoritarianism is on the rise, access to education needs to be improved and engaged citizenship is lacking.”

Facing the current and coming challenges, Saul stressed, will require more active participation – in society, in government, in debate – even if it might feel risky. “The problem today is that there’s an atmosphere out there, including in universities, that if we’re serious then we should all keep our heads down. We should be careful. We should be intellectually polite,” he said. “We don’t go anywhere if we’re intellectually polite all the time. That’s not the nature of debate.”

To challenge, change and course-correct society, he said, requires a thick skin. “You have to go out there and be ready to knock things down and therefore be knocked back,” he urged.

Saul warned about those – especially in politics – who urge efficiency and speed. Democracy should not be fast, he said, because that speed excludes key components of the democratic process.

“What could be slower than a society which takes the time to have citizens involved in the process? A society, at its best, listens and acts on the opinions of non-experts,” he said. “I would say we need to go even slower. We need more participation, more listening, much more participation, much more speaking up.”

He noted, too, that while over the past decades there have been world-changing advancements of knowledge that have led to a rise of expertise and efficiency, that should not shape our society. “The citizenry – all of us, through our democracy – we have to do the shaping.”

Saul acknowledged that wouldn’t necessarily be easy. “It’s going to be hard work … to rebuild the reality of the engaged citizen who believes in the shared public good, and hard work to build new coalitions of engaged citizens,” he said. “In other words, exciting times, demanding lives, high risk. All of that to say, I envy you.”

Arnold Auguste reflects on career spent sharing marginalized voices

Arnold Auguste

By Lindsay MacAdam, communications officer, YFile

At York University’s Spring Convocation ceremony on the morning of June 20, an honorary degree was presented to Arnold Auguste, president and publisher of the newspaper Share, which has been serving the Greater Toronto Area’s Black and Caribbean communities since 1978.

Born and raised in Trinidad, Auguste always had a fondness for Canada, so when he had the opportunity to move to Toronto in 1970, he didn’t hesitate. Two years later, a friend asked him if he would be interested in writing a column for community newspaper called Contrast, which covered issues affecting the Black community. And although writing was not something he had ever contemplated or felt capable of doing, he agreed. That was 52 years ago.

Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, Arnold Auguste, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.
Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, Arnold Auguste, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

“Today, I am proud to say that I’m a journalist,” said Auguste. “But this profession found me; I didn’t go looking for it.”

Growing up in Trinidad, Auguste naturally gravitated towards news media. He had access to three daily newspapers and three weekend tabloids, and he read every one. “I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would ever write for one – let alone own one,” he admitted.

As Auguste became more involved with Toronto’s Black community, he learned that people were raising funds to provide university scholarships for ambitious youth. He felt a pull to pursue that path, to gain the skills necessary to help him tell the stories of his community in the most compelling way possible. “I felt that if stories needed to be told, they needed to be told well,” he said. “So I entered university to study journalism, where I had the privilege of learning from some of the best people in the business.”

After completing his studies, Auguste worked briefly as an editor at two Black community newspapers, before differences of opinion led to a parting of ways and to Auguste’s eventual decision to start his own publication. Looking to provide a forum where important issues affecting his community could be discussed and debated, he launched Share.

“I never wanted to own a newspaper,” he said, “but if I was to continue working in the Black community, I didn’t see another option.”

Before long, Share took over the market, and the other two publications went out of business.

Auguste was adamant that his newspaper would be free; that it would only publish positive news; that it would not accept any advertising that wasn’t in the best interests of its readers; and that it would not accept government funding. “If the paper was to be successful, it should be supported by the readers,” he believed. And supported it was.

Over the years, Auguste has considered closing his paper several times, but each time that decision has been met with resistance from its steadfast supporters. Last year, he decided again that, after 45 years, it was time to cease publication. This time, he didn’t tell anyone – “I thought I would just sneak out the back door and nobody would notice,” he said.

After the first few weeks, people started calling to find out why they couldn’t find the paper anywhere. Then, the number of calls increased. Eventually, people began offering financial support, thinking that was the reason for the shutdown. Others said they were willing to start paying for the paper that had been free for 45 years. The community had spoken: Share wasn’t going anywhere.

“This experience has instilled in us a renewed sense of Share‘s relevance,” said Auguste, finally realizing how critical his publication is to his community.

With people of colour now working in important positions in Canadian media, academia, the labour movement, police services, the medical profession, as lawyers and judges, at every level of government and in just about every walk of life, Share‘s role, Auguste explained, is to honour those who sacrificed to make that happen.

“As a dear friend reminded me,” said Auguste, “if our history is not written, it is as though we did not exist. Share proves that we existed.”

To conclude his speech, Auguste left graduands with some sage words of advice.

“You have been educated by one of the top universities in the world,” he said. “You are ready to take your place among the movers and shakers. Accept the challenge. Go forward with confidence in yourself and in your training. Be good people. Be honest people. Be kind. Be generous of spirit. Live a life of purpose and help make this world a better place.”

Undergraduate students receive Governor General’s Silver Medals

Governor General Silver Winners BANNER

Three undergraduate students at York University have been awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal, which recognizes the outstanding scholastic achievements of undergraduate students in Canada.

The Governor General’s Academic Medals are considered the highest honour that can be earned by exemplary Canadian scholars throughout every level of academia. This year’s recipients are:

Vo Dinh Huy Nguyen

Vo Dinh Huy Nguyen

Nguyen is graduating from the Bachelor of Business Administration program at York University’s Schulich School of Business, specializing in accounting, with the highest grade point average among his cohort.

His time at the University has been distinguished by winning several University and national business competitions and being actively involved within the Schulich community. He served as executive for a wide range of clubs – notably as president of the Schulich Accounting Society – and as a mentor for hundreds of lower-year students.

He credits his academic success and the Governor General’s Silver Medal, in part, to his Vietnamese parents for their support across a notable geographical distance. He also welcomes the award as a testament to the sometimes challenging journey of an international student living alone in Canada.

“Balancing school, work, and extracurricular activities while navigating life independently has often been overwhelming and, at times, daunting. However, this award validates that every effort and sacrifice has been worth it. It serves as a powerful reminder that, together with the right mindset, perseverance, commitment and gratitude can lead to remarkable achievements,” Nguyen says. “It is my immense honour to be recognized as part of the legacy of excellence by the governor general of Canada.”

Nguyen is currently enrolled in the Master of Accounting program at Schulich, with the goal of obtaining his chartered professional accountant designation, and is starting a full-time job at Deloitte Toronto in September.  

Parker Grant

Parker Grant
Parker Grant

Grant is graduating from the Faculty of Health with a bachelor of science (specialized honours) in psychology.

During her time at York U, she says she fell in love with conducting research – notably, examining inequities in health and well-being, with a particular focus on substance misuse. She credits professors Kerry Kawakami, Heather Prime and Jeffrey Wardell for the mentorship that helped kindle that passion.

“I’m incredibly proud to be receiving the Governor General’s Silver Medal,” she says. “This award represents all of the hard work and late nights I’ve dedicated to my degree and serves as an inspiration to continue pursuing my studies.”

Grant will next pursue her research interests at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto, where her master’s thesis will examine sex and gender differences in response to an extended period of cannabis abstinence in individuals with major depressive disorder and cannabis use disorder. She will also continue research and advocacy work with the Queer & Trans Health Collective as a research assistant for the National 2S/LGBTQIA+ Substance Use Study.

Michele Bars

Michele Bars
Michele Bars

Bars is graduating from Glendon College with a specialized bachelor’s degree in French Studies, which allowed her to pursue an interest in a wide range of topics relating to French literature, language and linguistics, as well as culture and history in French-speaking countries.

“Receiving the Governor General’s Silver Medal is an honour and is very special to me,” she says. “It not only reflects my hard work and progress in my chosen field of study but also represents my overall student experience at Glendon and the wonderful professors from whom I learned so much over the years.”

Reeta Roy urges Faculty of Education graduands to ‘make a difference in the lives of learners’

Reeta Roy

Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation – an international non-governmental organization focused on empowering young Africans with education – offered several calls-to-action to Faculty of Education graduands to help shape the future of education.

“You have an entire lifetime of impact ahead of you,” Roy promised graduands during their June 17 convocation, as she began her address to them. “Whether you stand in front of the classroom or you get to decide what is taught in the classroom, whether you focus on expanding access to education or you set standards of education, you will make a difference in the lives of learners.”

An advocate for the transformational power of education through her work at the Mastercard Foundation, Roy made several requests of graduands as they move ahead in their careers.

She urged them to lean into one of the most important qualities teachers can possess. “As educators, one of the most important things you do – and you will do – is to recognize promise and talent in others, even before they may perceive it in themselves,” she said. “You have the opportunity to truly see the whole person – not the boundaries and not the limitations around them.”

That, she explained, can lead to something educators are uniquely positioned to do. “More than just see them, you will enable their passions, develop their confidence and help them believe in themselves so they can walk their own journeys and create their own opportunities,” said Roy.

Kathleen Taylor, Reeta Roy, Rhonda Lenton copy
Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, Reeta Roy, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

She also called upon graduands to transform the reality of who deserves an education, as she noted there are many who struggle to access learning due to poverty, conflict, distance, disability, lack of teachers, gender and more.

Roy noted she has seen – and worked to change – this directly, through her work with the Mastercard Foundation, which advances the development of educational opportunities for African youth and their families, and looks to empower 30 million young Africans by 2030 with the creation of educational and economic opportunities.

Roy delivered her final call to action in the form of an anecdote. She recounted a trip to Moosonee, a small town in northern Ontario sometimes referred to as “the gateway to the Arctic.” She was doing work there with the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, training Indigenous young people to become health professionals who would help the larger medical system embody Indigenous knowledge and world views about what is healthy and what is wellness.

During her visit, she encountered – in person, for the first time – an ice road.

She learned that during winters, communities transform rivers, lakes and other bodies of water into ice that’s strong enough to sustain trucks and cars transporting food, fuel and necessities to otherwise isolated communities. “I was just stunned by the sophistication and the technical know-how to create these roads,” Roy said. “The ice road reflected Indigenous technology based on traditional knowledge of living with the natural environment.”

At the same time, she marvelled at the cutting-edge knowledge being integrated into the unique type of infrastructure. As climate change threatens those ice roads, making it hard to predict where dangerous cracks might form, she learned that university researchers are applying emerging technologies – like sensors and artificial intelligence – to create better predictive models that can identity where cracks and ridges may form.

The ice road – its past, present and future – reminded Roy of education. “The ice road isn’t just a bridge across waters,” she said. “It’s a bridge connecting communities and cultures. It’s a bridge connecting traditional knowledge with new forms of knowledge, connecting the past and the present.”

In that realization, she found the lesson she wanted to impart on the Faculty of Education graduands she was addressing. “You can be that bridge,” she urged. “Be that bridge.”

York University’s new financial aid, awards, scholarships solution to launch next month

Students sitting at outdoor picnic table

With only a couple of weeks remaining until the launch of York University’s new financial aid, awards and scholarships solution, the University is gearing up for the exciting transformation. Part of the Student Systems Renewal Program (SSRP), it will enhance the way students gain access to and apply for financial aid, awards, scholarships and graduate funding. It will also change how faculty and staff review and distribute awards. The community will have access to the new solution beginning the week of July 8.

Faculty and staff end users for the new solution have been identified. Their training began in May and will complete next week. The training sessions are designed to prepare users with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their roles. Resources will also be made available for students, to ensure they are equipped to navigate the system changes.

To take a closer look at the features and benefits of this new system, watch the animated video explaining how it will be easier than ever to search and apply for funding opportunities, track applications and receive financial support. Further discover the system’s capabilities through a series of short video demonstrations highlighting different aspects of its functionality, including award cycle controls, budget creation and much more. As well, a webinar from the project’s leadership team provides an overview of the new solution, with a Q-and-A portion at the end.

For answers to common queries, visit the project’s newly updated frequently asked questions section, intended to provide clarity on various aspects of the new solution. Faculty and staff who require additional assistance with the switch or have questions about it can reach out to their dedicated Faculty/division project lead or program champion. Students can expect more information to be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, continue checking the financial aid, awards and scholarships project page for news and updates as the community launch draws near.

President congratulates Spring Convocation’s Class of 2024

convocation

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The following is a message from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton to the Class of 2024:

To the exceptional Class of 2024, my warmest congratulations! It is a privilege and a pleasure to join you in commemorating this major milestone in your life.

With all that is going on in the world, this group of graduating students has demonstrated not only perseverance but resilience.

We are living at a time of great change and transformation – brought on by a convergence of factors which include the pandemic, the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, the organization of work, the labour market and sociodemographic changes.

All of these forces are working together, contributing in some cases to geopolitical conflicts and war, raising important ethical questions in society and a whole host of other wicked problems such as the sustainability of the planet we call home.

Higher education, as a result, is being profoundly impacted by the urgent need for talent, research and innovation, collaboration and co-operation.

The knowledge and skills you have acquired are just the beginning. The true measure of your education will be evident in how you use it to bridge divides, cultivate empathy and understanding, and contribute to a better world.

Now, more than ever, we need changemakers who recognize the humanity in others, skilled at finding creative compromises and deeply committed to the well-being of all people and the planet.

Changemakers are all around us – for example, in the honorary degree recipients and the award winners we were pleased to recognize.

Each of our Faculties are also exemplary models. For example, in the Faculty of Science, Professor Sapna Sharma, who is celebrated as one of Canada’s top 10 water scientists, is leading the UNITAR Global Water Academy. The aim of the academy is to tackle global water sustainability – a pressing issue that affects the population worldwide.

In the Faculty of Education, the Jean Augustine Chair held by Carl James continues to attract donations, due in no small part to individuals like doctors Augustine and James, who have dedicated their lives to access, equity, and inclusivity through community engagement and collaborative action, supporting initiatives that ensure the success of current and future Black scholars and students.

With interdisciplinary collaboration as our forte, many of our Faculties are also contributing to the $318-million Connected Minds research initiative, the largest York-led research project. Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society, in partnership with Queen’s University and others, aims to understand and mitigate the risks of emerging technologies, particularly for vulnerable populations.

And earlier this month, York was named in the world’s top 35 among 2,000+ participating universities for its impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by the prestigious Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. These examples are powerful reminders of the impact that we can make as individuals as well as collectively.

You join a network of more than 375,000 York alumni, making a meaningful difference across diverse spheres of life. I know that some of you are continuing on at York in graduate programs, but whatever your future plans, I hope you stay in touch with us, and with the friends and acquaintances you have made along the way.

Let us take a moment to acknowledge the many individuals who have supported you throughout your higher education journey. This includes your professors, teaching assistants, administrative staff, classmates, family, partners, and friends who have encouraged and assisted you in reaching this significant milestone.

Thank you for choosing York. Congratulations! We look forward to seeing what you will do next!

Bonne chance! Miigwetch!

Le président félicite la promotion de la collation des grades du printemps 2024

convocation

J’adresse mes plus vives félicitations à l’exceptionnelle promotion de 2024! C’est un grand privilège pour moi de célébrer avec vous cette étape importante de votre vie.

Étant donné la situation mondiale actuelle, ce groupe de diplômés a fait preuve non seulement de persévérance, mais aussi de résilience.

Nous vivons une époque de transformations et de grands changements déclenchés par une combinaison de facteurs comme la pandémie, l’essor de l’IA et de l’automatisation, l’organisation du travail, le marché de l’emploi et les tendances sociodémographiques.

Toutes ces forces conjuguées entraînent dans certains cas des conflits géopolitiques et des guerres et soulèvent d’importantes questions éthiques dans la société ainsi que de nombreux autres problèmes épineux, dont la durabilité de la planète Terre.

L’enseignement supérieur est donc profondément marqué par le besoin pressant de talents, de recherche et d’innovation, de collaboration et de coopération.

Les connaissances et les compétences que vous avez acquises ne sont qu’un début. La vraie portée de votre éducation sera évidente dans l’usage que vous en ferez pour combler les fossés, cultiver l’empathie et la compréhension et contribuer ainsi à un monde meilleur.

Aujourd’hui plus que jamais, nous avons besoin d’artisans et artisanes du changement qui reconnaissent l’humanité des autres, habiles à trouver des compromis créatifs et qui se mobilisent en vue du bien-être de tous les peuples et de la planète.

On retrouve de telles personnes un peu partout dans notre entourage, surtout parmi les récipiendaires de diplômes honorifiques et les lauréats des prix que nous avons le plaisir de décerner.

Chacune de nos facultés constitue aussi un modèle à suivre. Prenons l’exemple de la Faculté des sciences : la professeure Sapna Sharma a été reconnue comme l’une des dix meilleures scientifiques canadiennes dans le domaine de l’eau. Elle dirige aujourd’hui l’Académie mondiale de l’eau de l’UNITAR, dont l’objectif est de s’attaquer au problème de la durabilité de l’eau, un enjeu qui touche les populations du monde entier.

À la Faculté des sciences de l’éducation, la Chaire Jean Augustine, dont Carl James est actuellement titulaire, continue d’attirer des dons grâce à Mme Augustine et M. James qui ont consacré leur vie à l’accès, à l’équité et à l’inclusion au moyen de l’engagement communautaire et de l’action collaborative ainsi que d’initiatives assurant la réussite des universitaires et étudiant·e·s noir·e·s actuel·le·s et futur·e·s.

La collaboration interdisciplinaire étant notre point fort, plusieurs facultés contribuent également à l’initiative de recherche Connected Minds/Esprits branchés dont la valeur s’élève à 318 M$ et qui est le plus grand projet de recherche dirigé par York. Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society, de concert avec l’Université Queen’s et d’autres partenaires, a pour mandat de comprendre et d’atténuer les risques des technologies émergentes, notamment pour les populations vulnérables.

Au début du mois, le prestigieux palmarès Impact de Times Higher Education a classé York parmi les 35 meilleures universités au monde — sur plus de 2 000 — pour son impact sur les ODD. Ces exemples illustrent bien l’incidence que nous pouvons avoir individuellement et collectivement.

Vous rejoignez un réseau de plus de 375 000 diplômé·e·s de York qui suscitent le changement dans divers domaines. Je sais que certains et certaines d’entre vous poursuivrez vos études à York. Quels que soient vos projets d’avenir, j’espère que vous resterez en contact avec nous ainsi qu’avec les amis et les connaissances que vous vous êtes faits en cours de route.

Prenons un moment pour remercier les nombreuses personnes qui vous ont appuyés tout au long de votre parcours dans l’enseignement supérieur. C’est grâce aux encouragements de vos professeur·e·s, chargé·e·s de cours, membres du personnel administratif, camarades de classe, familles, partenaires et amis que vous avez pu atteindre ce cap important.

Merci d’avoir choisi York. Félicitations! Nous avons hâte de voir ce que l’avenir vous réserve!

Bonne chance! Miigwetch!

Indigenous students share reflections on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Banner National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day are times of celebration and reflection. The month signifies the opportunity to welcome learning as well as come together to build connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Each year on June 21, the cultural richness and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people are celebrated. In the spirit of reflection, two Indigenous students who are a part of the York University community have shared what Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day means to them.

Leo Manning

Manning is a third-year psychology student who is Plains Cree on his father’s side, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, and English, Irish and Scottish on his mother’s side. Manning is also the student success mentor at the Centre for Indigenous Student Services.

Leo Manning
Leo Manning

National Indigenous Peoples Day can be a day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples and their culture; however, the significance to me is more about acknowledging the work that still needs to be done so that healing can take place

For example, it is important to reflect on measurable actions and transparency in progress being made. Notably, initiatives like the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action must be followed through with, including inquiries into Missing, Murdered Women, Girls, Men, Boys and Two-Spirit folks – especially given that a 2023 report by the Yellowhead Institute, titled “Calls to Action Accountability: A 2023 Status Update on Reconciliation,” showed that last year none of the Calls to Action were completed. This is the work that still needs to be done.

While National Indigenous Peoples Day is complicated for me due to personal reasons, it can allow time to see family and friends and celebrate each other. It can also be positive in the way that non-Indigenous folks and allies can learn more about Indigenous Peoples and culture in a good way, while also respectfully learning about the work that needs to be done and how they can help.

Rainingbird Daniels

Daniels is a third-year psychology student who is proudly Plains Cree, Sioux and Dakota from Sturgeon Lake First Nation located on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatchewan.

Rainingbird Daniels
Rainingbird Daniels

Although I am very conflicted by National Indigenous Peoples Day – it gives me a sense of anger, happiness and unsettling emotions – I am very happy and proud to have a national day to recognize Indigenous people, as we deserve the recognition.

I do hope that by having this national day, it can help properly educate people and newcomers about our Indigenous history on our lands and to learn to live in harmony with each other. For example, I think people can become involved and educate themselves by attending open events hosted by Indigenous people/organizations, watch historical Indigenous movies and researching the history of Canada.

I’ve never celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day nor done anything special on this day since it was given to us. I know many other Indigenous people have many ways to celebrate the day and to embrace it. But, personally, for myself as an Indigenous person, it has never been a significant day. This year, I will be celebrating my first National Indigenous Peoples Day by hosting a Drum Social as president of the Indigenous Students’ Association at York.