The Aboriginal Resource Centre was established at Loyalist College to ensure appropriate support for Native students on campus. It also acts as a liaison between College administration, Native communities and government agencies. Waukomaun Pawis is from Wasauksing First Nation, also known as Parry Sound, and works for the College Centre as the First Generation/Aboriginal Outreach Officer. His role is to visit communities and high schools across Ontario to promote post-secondary education with a specific focus on Loyalist College.
“The ultimate goal is to provide Aboriginal peoples with information regarding post-secondary education to help guide them on their path through life,” explained Waukomaun. “Hopefully I will be able to help them realize their potential and choose a college and career that they would like to pursue, inspiring them to be the best that they possibly can.”
This fall Waukomaun has been part of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Information Program Tour (APSIP), a group of representatives from colleges and universities who travel across Ontario, presenting the ranges of post-secondary programs that are available and highlighting campus life to high school students. The tour has taken them to communities such as Kenora, Whitedog, Grassy Narrows, Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury and Timiskiming First Nation in Quebec.
Waukomaun is a graduate of Loyalist’s three-year Television and New Media Production program. “When I talk about college to students, I like to share my life story, my experiences and how Loyalist helped me. This allows me to relate to the students and make what I am sharing more personal. I tell them that Loyalist is a small college that provides an excellent student-to-teacher ratio. The services here are exceptionally helpful too. Without the Aboriginal Resource Centre, I believe that I would truly have felt lost and alone. This support system definitely helped make my experience here an enjoyable one.”
“My studies at Loyalist have given me the tools and knowledge to work in the communications field. I plan to shoot a documentary to promote awareness of Aboriginal issues and clear up common misconceptions that the general public has about Native people. Without my family and friends I would not be where I am today, so if I can help encourage someone else to experience all that life has to offer and show them that post-secondary education will give them the tools to succeed in life, then for me that is the most rewarding thing I can do.”
As part of their focus on community outreach and inclusion, Loyalist College is hosting the 13th Annual Festival of Native Arts this Saturday, November 1st from 10:00 until 4:00 in the cafeteria in the Kente Building. Guests attending this year’s Festival will find a wide range of performances including the Parry Sound Drumming Group, Quinte Mohawk Dancers, Tyendinaga Native Women Singers and the Alderville First Nations Youth Drum. Members of the community are encouraged to attend and enjoy this opportunity to experience the richness of Aboriginal culture.