Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner March 11, 2021
The word “enwayaang” is an Anishinabe term meaning “the way we speak together.”
It is pronounced “en-why-ing,” and describes the weekly Zoom chats and other activities going on these days organized by Gzowski College, for its students particularly, but open and advertised to everyone.
Gzowski College, led by its dynamic principal, Dr Melanie Buddle and her creative college assistants, Stephanie Curtin and Alison Peek, is at the moment host to about 80 percent of its usual first-year campus population. In these days of community indignation about COVID-19 infections on campuses, it must be remembered that the vast majority of students respectfully abide by protocols and are equally embarrassed by the situation that has developed.
How does leadership support and strengthen these students during a very hard time of their lives? After all, a recent Globe and Mail story describes this group as “bored, lonely and stuck.”
Some of their classes are “synchronous,” which means beamed out online by their professors at a specific, announced time. Others are “asynchronous” or taped for watching anytime. For a young person at university, that’s usually at 2 a.m.
All groups have had life turned upside down, but for the young it is dreams gone awry and key events gone forever. Into the breach, step educators resolved to make life more bearable. Lead them outdoors for one thing. At Gzowski, there are weekly “Tipi Treks” to the First Peoples House of Learning grounds where a Firekeeper will speak, and “Wellness Walks” with the principal, sometimes on snowshoes. Weekly zoom chats take place on a subject the students are interested in. A speaker, either a professor or a community member who is passionate about a subject, will come on and chat for an hour.
These enwayaang meetings have featured Joel Baetz on comic books, Jenna Pilgrim on safeguarding one’s reputation on the internet, Drew Hayden Taylor on Indigenous storytelling, Cam Douglas on his high school class on sustainability, and yours truly on growing a global mind.
Since its beginning in the 1960s under the leadership of the visionary late Thomas Symons, Trent University has sought to serve the larger community of Peterborough. This is just the latest project. I have been enriched by hearing Stephen Lewis, former ambassador to the U.N. who spoke at the Athletic Centre, and world-famous journalist, Gwynne Dyer at Gzowski.
I do treadmill, when we aren’t locked down, at the Athletic Centre and enjoy soups from Planet Bakery. So at home am I at Trent, that it pains me to hear about citizens, those who have never attended a post-secondary place and have a feeling of intimidation, or a fear of not understanding what goes on.
I spoke to a young woman recently, a college graduate, the first in her family. Her grandparents, who had raised her, were intimidated coming to her graduation, feeling they had no right to be there.
Universities owe a lot to the cities and towns they are located in. Relationships matter. They are expensive institutions to build and to maintain. Trent seems to understand this. Its fundamental responsibility is to research, high scholarship and teaching.
But it will also cooperate fully with the community, providing lands and sports facilities and access to a library.
I delighted a year ago to attend the World Women’s Field Hockey tournament at Trent. I always take in the annual rowing regatta.
Recently I spoke with Trent’s chancellor, a graduate from the sixties and an arts producer, Stephen Stohn. He himself has been busy during the pandemic hosting weekly “Trent Talks,” online conversations with two professors each week about their interests. It’s another link between “town” and “gown.”
So, a salute to Trent and Gzowski and Buddle, who, I hasten to add, is a “local girl,” the daughter of science teacher Bill Buddle and his wife Liz Buddle, a yoga teacher, in Lakefield. Years ago, I was motivated towards fitness by Liz Buddle.
Now it’s about continuing my education at our university. Miigwetch.
You can purchase Positive Community directly from Rosemary Ganley at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon.com<