Indigenous voices matter. As the Communications Program Assistant at the Indigenous Student Centre (ISC) at SFU it is my job to create content to share with students that not only promote our programs, but foster community. My main goals this semester have been to highlight Indigenous students' voices, support student needs, and promote our virtual community. And this is how it went...
Ever since COVID-19 started, and we stopped in person gatherings, we have lost a part of that sense of community that we hold so close to our hearts. Virtual programs are just not the same, despite that, the ISC team has been working hard to provide an array of programs and services. Since March 2020 the ISC has hosted over 175 programs virtually including academic, well-being and cultural workshops. However, we also understand that students are busy and tired of being on Zoom all the time. This is where social media came in. Through various social media campaigns including Community Care Giveaways, Wellness Wednesdays and Student Stories we have been able to stay connected with the community virtually.
Community Care Giveaways
One of the four ISC pillars is reciprocity and we seek to ensure that all SFU Indigenous students feel included within our community. That is why we do a monthly Community Care Giveaway to help strengthen our online kinship. To enter, I ask students to engage with the post by answering the question prompt. This helps us get to know each other a little better. As well as, tagging other SFU Indigenous students which gets more of our community involved. This giveaway is for a giftcard to an Indigenous owned wellness business. We are celebrating our own SFU community by supporting the local Indigenous community at the same time.
This has undoubtedly been a difficult semester for many, and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. In collaboration with SFU Health and Counselling, every week I provide a mid-week wellness check-in for students. Here is an example:
Instagram Reel: @brainbodydoc
Poll: How are you feeling? 1) Ready for the day! 2) Not doing my best
Question: What is one way you manage procrastination?
Resource: SFU Library workshops
By sharing all of these different resources and questions it creates a better understanding and dialogue about each week's topic. As well as, giving students a chance to share their own wellness tips.
One project that I have been working hard on to truly amplify Indigenous student voices is the Student Stories project. Ever since starting at the ISC getting the Student Stories project up and running has been one of my main goals. Everyone’s story is different, with different perspectives, values and experiences. That is why it is important to share these stories to highlight how broad the student experience is, and that it is not the same for everyone.
An ISC Student Story highlights an Indigenous student and their perspective on Indigenous wellness. Students share a little bit about themselves, as well as their personal experiences and thoughts on the topic. For example, here is what I shared for my post:
Wellness comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from physical health to mental health and everything in between. For me, what I focus on is living an active lifestyle, which includes a lot of hiking and walks. I know with Covid, it has been difficult due to gym restrictions and limited sports being played. Hiking is a great way to be active, get some fresh air, or have a socially distanced hangout with friends. As a dog walker, the pups always keep me accountable and make sure I get in my weekly walks. What are some of your favourite hikes? I would love to try out some new trails!
Being the Communication Program Assistant at the ISC has given me the opportunity and platform to highlight and amplify Indigenous student voices and create an online community. Community and knowledge sharing are two very important parts of our culture which I have been able to promote. The ISC is such a welcoming and caring community, which I am lucky to be a part of. They want the best for their students, providing them with the resources to thrive, while creating a safe space in an inherently colonial institution.