Turtle Island Walk opening recognizes Indigenous community

photo by The Daily News

Ashley Quinton
News/Politics Writer

The University of Windsor held an opening ceremony for Turtle Island Walkway to recognize and celebrate the First Nations community.

Sunset Avenue, where the walk is located, contains seven plaques commemorating the seven teachings from the First Nations ancestors, including; love, respect, truth, bravery, honesty, wisdom and humility.

“These principles given to us early in our history represent a set of teachings on human conduct toward others. These teachings lead us, all of us, to what we call a good way of life,” says Dean Jacobs, consultation manager for Walpole Island First Nation.

Jacobs was thrilled all the hard work from both the community and university finally paid off. “In solidarity, we join together to celebrate an important act of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect. In conclusion, I would like to add an eighth teaching and that’s promise. The promise of the University of Windsor that there are more good things to come.”

photo by Ashley Quinton

University of Windsor President, Dr. Wildeman talks about important this monument is “the seven teachings, are as close to the bone of what a university should be.”

As you travel down the walkway there are seven banners with artwork by Teresa Altiman. Each piece was taken from her larger creation located at the visitor’s section in Point Pelee National Park.

They contain visuals of animals, wildlife, and nature.

“It is good that these metal banners are along this walkway to vibrate and sing their song as they feel the beating of this sacred drum,” says Altiman.

As a young girl, she never dreamed to see her artwork featured at the University of Windsor, but she says she is thrilled and it allows people to see that nothing is impossible.

Second-year law student, Cheyenne Arnold-Cunningham believes this space is important to both Indigenous and domestic students. “It’s a great way to educate the student body and to generate awareness and acknowledge the history of the Indigenous history in Canada. It’s a space that allows us to re-centre Indigenous culture and worldviews and really begins to indigenize the campus.”

As an indigenous student herself, Cheyenne thinks this space is a learning opportunity for the university campus. “I think a lot of times people tend to forget that there are ongoing colonial practices today that indigenous people face and I think a university is an institution that has the power and ability to change that. Having the opportunity to learn and walk in a space like this, I think really begins to spark a process of institutional decolonization.”

She continues to say that “the Turtle Island Walk is a great way to remind everyone that the land that we walk on, that we are all treaty people and we all have a unique role to play. It reminds me of reconciliation and as students both, indigenous and non-indigenous, we need to work to an aim of reconciliation.”

Earlier in the year, the university posted five tenure-track positions for indigenous professors as part of a new initiative, the President’s Indigenous Peoples Scholars Program.


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