Above: Shq’apthut on VIU’s Nanaimo campus via viu.ca

Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place was built in 2009 as a designated area that reflects and transcends our First Nations culture. The Gathering Place now boasts staff from the Services for Aboriginal Students team that supports Aboriginal students to succeed in achieving their academic goals.

The team assists students in their transition to VIU, and provides support to students with academic or personal concerns. Staff at the Gathering Place are also able to give information or referrals to other community services; offer personal or substance abuse counselling; help with career planning; and help with bursaries, scholarships, student loans, and funding for status, non-status, and Metis students.

The Gathering Place promotes cultural, recreational, and social activities for Aboriginal students. It works alongside the Aboriginal Students’ Representative, as well as resident Elders and other organizations, to provide many services and activities for all students. Past activities include morning smudges, drum-making workshops, and moccasin-making workshops.

The team is currently working on ways to provide support following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including healing circles.

Upcoming events include a dreamcatcher workshop on March 23. For a full calendar of events, take a look in Shq’apthut, bldg. 170. The Gathering Place is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Services are offered in the building Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read also: Integrating Aboriginal culture into public schools