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College program co-hosts dance event

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Students from Confederation College's Aboriginal Community Advocacy program recently co-hosted a round dance and giveaway event with the organizers of the annual “Full Moon Memory Walk” to thank members of the community for their continued support.

More than 100 people braved minus-15 C temperatures to join hands and dance to the music of traditional drummers at the intersection of Brodie Street and Victoria Avenue in Thunder Bay.

Robert Mamakeesic, a second-year advocacy student from Sandy Lake First Nation, said his class had a specific goal with the round dance.

“There's been a lot of focus on the negative so we were trying to focus on bringing the positive back to the community,” he remarked.

“We partnered with Sharon Johnson, who's the founder of the 'Full Moon Memory Walk,' and we wanted to find a way to give thanks to everyone in the community who supports her cause,” Mamakeesic added.

“We decided that a round dance and giveaway would be the perfect way to do that.”

Johnson was grateful for the opportunity to work with the students in developing stronger community relationships through the event.

“The students are doing important work to bring the community together," she noted. ”We need to do that more often.

“I was happy when they asked me to be a part of this.”

Students spent months fundraising to gather all of the supplies they needed for the giveaway, which included toques, mittens, and other cold-weather gear.

After the round dance, participants were invited into Victoriaville Mall for coffee/tea and homemade bannock.

Jana-Rae Yerxa, program co-ordinator for Aboriginal Community Advocacy at Confederation, shared her pride with what her students achieved with the event.

“I want the students to know that they created an empowering event that made a space for all people in the community to participate in our songs, ceremonies, and prayer,” she said.

“They provided an opportunity to come together in a positive way, which is a powerful and beautiful thing.”

Confederation College's Aboriginal Community Advocacy diploma program provides students with a strong understanding of the historic social, legal, and political issues affecting indigenous-Canadian relations today.

They explore best practices in leadership, government, justice, and sustainable land and resource management.

Mamakeesic knows how he wants to put his skills to work once he graduates.

“I want to go to university after I finish this program and then take the education I've gained back to my home community of Sandy Lake,” he said.

“Accessing resources and the basics they need to get by is not easy in reserves in the north, so I want to expand access to resources so that people have the opportunity to improve their lives,” he explained.

For more information about the Aboriginal Community Advocacy program and to apply, visit www.confederationcollege.ca/ACA

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