Humber College’s Indigenous Education and Engagement support service centre, formerly known as the Aboriginal Resource Centre, helps Indigenous students find their home and family away from home.
Adjusting to a new school in a big city and far away from friends, family, and traditional culture can be a source of anxiety for many Indigenous students.
The Department of Indigenous Education and Engagement (IE&E) at Humber College works in partnership with Indigenous communities to support and connect Indigenous students to their learning environment — academically, culturally, and socially. IE&E also creates an awareness and appreciation of Indigenous cultures and histories within the greater campus community.
Resources to help Indigenous students thrive
By providing convenient study spaces, social gatherings, traditional workshops, and musical performances showcasing Indigenous talent, IE&E helps students gain a sense of belonging on campus.
“As an Indigenous person, it’s difficult at times to find where you fit in, but the moment I walked into the Centre, I felt at home,” says James Wilson, a graduate of the two-year Social Service Worker program at Humber’s Lakeshore campus. “The Centre offered so many resources that not only supported my success in the program, but also helped me connect with other Indigenous students on campus.”
Emma Petahtegoose, a graduate of both the General Arts and Science certificate program and the Media Communications diploma program, credits IE&E with helping her blossom during her time at Humber. “They really know how to take care of their students and I truly felt I could be myself in the safe space they created,” she says.
Both Wilson and Petahtegoose encourage new Indigenous students at Humber to connect with the Department of Indigenous Education and Engagement. “They know what you’re going through and will support you in any way they can,” says Wilson. Adds Petahtegoose: “Regardless of where you attend school, always connect to the Indigenous student services because they can be a great help to you and become your family away from home.”
For more information, follow Humber’s Department of Indigenous Education and Engagement:
Part of the Family: From Enrolment to Long After Graduation
Graduate of General Arts and Science certificate program & Media Communications diploma program
Graduate of Social Service Worker program, Lakeshore campus
Humber College graduates Emma Petahtegoose and James Wilson share their college experiences and advice for future Indigenous students.
Tell us about your program. What led you to apply to Humber College?
Emma Petahtegoose: I attended Humber initially for Culinary Skills with the goal of finishing and opening my own restaurant. However, at the end of my first semester, I concluded that the Culinary Skills program wasn’t for me. I transferred into the General Arts and Science program and graduated with aspirations of attending the University of Guelph-Humber for Media Studies, but was unsuccessful.
I didn’t let that deter me from entering another media studies program. I applied again to Humber for the Media Communications diploma program and was accepted. The program was very informative, and I felt it aligned well with my goal of becoming a graphic designer. I learned so much about photography, videography, business, and writing, and really enjoyed my time in the program. Without the connections I made through Humber College’s Indigenous Education and Engagement (IE&E) team, I don’t think I would have chosen Humber or even chosen to stay at Humber. After four years, I graduated with a certificate and a diploma.
James: I enrolled in the Social Service Worker (SSW) program at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus in 2017 and graduated in 2019. This was a great program and it really helped me navigate my career path. Prior to my enrolment, I was interested in pursuing music therapy because of my passion for music and helping others in my community. My aunt, who’s a social worker herself, suggested that I start my journey by getting a two-year SSW diploma.
So, I began to visit many potential colleges but was always drawn to the big city because of the music scene — that’s when I found Humber. When I visited Humber College Lakeshore for the first time, I was nervous but also excited. Upon taking a tour around the campus, I was blown away by how gorgeous the campus looked and how welcoming the faculty was. After I took that tour, I made the decision to enrol and I’m so happy I did.
What has been your favourite thing about attending Humber College?
Emma: All the events and opportunities that the IE&E team created were the highlight of my time at Humber. They really know how to take care of their students. I felt I could truly be myself in the safe space that they created.
James: My favourite thing about Humber College has got to be the sense of community you feel at the campus. I moved to Toronto not knowing a single person at Humber, which added to my anxiety — but when I began my program, I made friends very quickly. A big part of what eased my anxiety and made me feel welcome was the IE&E team. As an Indigenous person, it’s very difficult at times to find where you fit in. I walked into the IE&E Centre and I felt at home. It became my hangout spot on campus.
How have you found the Indigenous student community at Humber College?
Emma: I was lucky enough to already known the staff at the IE&E Centre because I had an aunt who worked at Humber at the time. I also found it was very easy to build friendships because the staff were always very welcoming to new faces in the Centre and did their best to make the Indigenous students feel at home.
James: The Indigenous student community at Humber is very supportive and welcoming. The IE&E offers so many resources that not only supported my success in the program but that helped me connect with other Indigenous students. They offer many different social events to bring Indigenous students together, like movie cafés and game nights. Humber College does an amazing job at acknowledging the talents of Indigenous students by giving them exposure and support in various ways. Being a performing musician, the Centre has had me perform at numerous events around Humber and they continue to support my success even upon graduating. It’s a good feeling to know I’ll always be welcomed and supported even after completing my program.
What advice do you have for Indigenous students applying for, or beginning, post-secondary education?
Emma: I really want young Indigenous people to understand the value they have and to always believe that there’s a place within education for them. I think that following your own path and having faith in your capabilities will help you so much when you’re at any school. Also, always connect to the Indigenous student services, whatever they may look like, at the institution you’re attending because they can be the greatest help for you and may also become your family away from home.
James: When applying for or beginning post-secondary school, make sure you contact your Indigenous student centre as soon as possible. They know what you’re going through as a new Indigenous student and will support you in any way they can. The two years I spent at Humber College were the best two years of my life. If you’re starting your journey in post-secondary, I wish you the best of luck in your studies and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!