With a new academic year comes new support for Indigenous students at Dalhousie.
Over the summer the Aboriginal Student Centre was renamed the Indigenous Student Centre, and moved from its location on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building to the first floor of 1321 Edward St. The centre also welcomed a new Indigenous student advisor, Michele Graveline.
Originally from Northern Manitoba, Michele is Métis and has been living in Mi'kma'ki — the territory encompassing New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. — for over 20 years. Prior to coming to Dal, she worked for the Halifax Regional School Board as an Aboriginal student support worker for eight years. Michele has also done work for Circle Works, an Indigenous consulting business, where she was part of numerous contract-based projects in different communities throughout Mi’kma’ki.
“I am really excited to be here — it’s like a natural progression, like I graduated high school and now I’m at university,” she says with a laugh.
While reconciliation is a process, Michele says she appreciates the name change of the centre is a nod to renewed efforts in that direction.
“I feel positive in the steps I’ve seen from Dalhousie in moving forward in its relationship with Indigenous people on campus,” she says. “Certainly we are in a time of transition, reconciliation, and changing the narrative.”
A more comfortable environment
The move to the house on Edward St., which the centre shares with the Black Student Advising Centre, will provide Indigenous students with a more comfortable, home-like environment. Anne Forrestall, senior assistant vice-provost of Student Affairs, describes the changes as being the result of consultation with students and a move towards better service integration for the Indigenous community on campus.
“Michele has great plans for improving services and resources for Indigenous students at Dal, and the house itself will undergo renovations later in the term, including updating the smudging ventilation, that will make it an even better space to meet students’ needs,” she says. “I am thrilled to see all of this coming together in support of Indigenous students.”
An orientation for new and returning Indigenous students was held during the first week of September, and Michele hopes to host numerous events throughout the year including traditional craft making and cooking. The Centre also provides regular academic support on site, with a tutor from the Writing Centre available once a week, a study skills coach from Study for Success available once a week, and math tutoring offered twice a week in collaboration with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey.
All members of the Dal community are welcome to drop in to the Centre at any time between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
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