With the announcement of the discovery of 93 potential burial sites near a former residential school in British Columbia, Brock’s Aboriginal Student Services (AbSS) team is offering Elder support for Indigenous students at the University.
The virtual meetings will allow Indigenous students to meet with Brock’s Elders in residence, who are committed to listening and offering spiritual and cultural guidance.
Cindy Biancaniello, Brock’s AbSS Director, said the generational trauma that comes with the announcement is something that every Indigenous student and their family carries.
“The most important thing for us is the well-being of Indigenous students,” she said. “Events like this weigh on students and their families, and it can be so hard to maintain a focus on their education when they don’t have space and time to mourn these discoveries. Meeting with Elders allows our students to spend time with people who know what they are experiencing and can offer words of wisdom during such a difficult time.”
Any Indigenous student who would like to virtually meet with an Elder is asked to email Biancaniello a email@example.com or Aboriginal Recruitment/Liaison Officer Sam Charal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Indigenous faculty, staff and students in need of immediate support can also call the National Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-250-1529, or the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24-7 Help Line at 1-855-242-3310.
Additional support will also be provided in the upcoming weeks and months, when AbSS will host talking circles, wellness-themed events and welcome Elders to discuss maintaining balance and land-based therapy. Further information about these events will be posted on the AbSS Facebook and Instagram pages.
Members of Brock’s non-Indigenous student community who are in need of additional support are encouraged to use the My Student Support Program (My SSP) mobile app, while all Brock faculty and staff and their immediate family members can access the University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program LifeWorks and its support services 24-7 by calling 1-844-880-9137.
AbSS is encouraging anyone interested in learning more about residential schools in Canada and their legacy to read the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada on the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website.