Quebec students participate in college teepee raising

·3 min read

The Lethbridge College English Language Centre is welcoming several students from Quebec to its campus as part of the Explore Bursary Program, returning to an in-person experience after two years of COVID pandemic restrictions. Lethbridge College’s Indigenous Services has been providing opportunities for the students to experience Indigenous culture with a teepee raising on Thursday morning. Karen Smith, Manager of the English Language Centre, said “We have a lot of Indigenous things for them to do. They’re going to Writing-on-Stone, Waterton this weekend, they’re doing a Kairos Blanket Exercise, they’re going to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. So, we’re grateful to have a lot of the participation from the Indigenous Services Program to help us with that aspect of it.” The college is hoping to share the cultural aspects of Lethbridge and the importance through these opportunities. The program was funded back in 1971 by Canadian Heritage with administration by the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada, bringing thousands of Canadians across the country to learn and expand their language while experiencing different cultures. Phillippe Bouvier is one of the students from Montréal, Québec, saying the experience has taught him a lot and brought new experiences he would not see at home, commenting “Here I really see the nature of things. It’s very beautiful. You walk and you don’t see just buildings everywhere. There’s trees, there’s grass, and like especially the Writing-on-Stone, that was very beautiful, with the rug, the sand stones. So it’s really a different experience. And I really appreciate it. And today we built this teepee with Blackfoot Nation. It was a very nice experience. I really liked it.” Bouvier will start school in September at HEC Montréal studying finance, and is hoping to use the experience to expand his career options and explore more areas of travel like Europe and America. Kevin Smith, Dean of Business Arts and Sciences, was present at the teepee raising highlighting the importance of the program and the return to being in person. “The Explorer program gives French speaking students the ability to come and improve or increase their knowledge and skills in the English language.” The program gives students the ability to acquire basic everyday speaking skills while immersing them with everyday English language living. Smith said “Because English and French are the two official languages of Canada, I think having fluency in both will have to help you find a job and interact worldwide and nationally with people.” The program immerses students native to the English language in the culture of Lethbridge and shares the rich heritage found within the region. Smith adds the Indigenous heritage is an added benefit to the program, saying “I also think that the Blackfoot Confederacy has some unique cultural aspects both to visit and to also learn about. Putting the teepee up is one of the focuses on the culture and the start of fair celebration. To introduce that to students I think is an added benefit and the education.” Students will be in Lethbridge until August 5 for the summer semester with new experiences and stories to share with family and friends. Bouvier says he will encourage others to participate in the program and enhance their education while experiencing a new environment, adding “Coming here it’s kind of a vacation with a very big family. And I’ve only been here for about a week and a half. But I’m sure that at the end of the program, every student here will be like one big family. And we’re all going to be like united. It’s really a nice experience to come here. If you’re thinking about it, I recommend you to come here. It’s very nice.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald

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