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Sudbury college opens new Indigenous gathering place

Anmar Mechanical and Electrical Contractors funds Wiidokaaziwin — ‘The Gathering Place’

Cambrian College in Sudbury is now home to Wiidokaaziwin — ‘The Gathering Place’ — and scholarships for Indigenous students thanks to a $100,000 donation by Anmar Mechanical and Electrical Contractors

Wiidokaaziwin is a classroom and community space for traditional Indigenous teachings and ceremonies. The school unveiled the new space during an event on Nov. 10.

The entrance to Wiidokaaziwin features two hand-carved wood statues, donated to the college by Indigenous artist William Bondy. The statues depict parents holding young children, representing family and protection.

Open to all members of the Cambrian community, Wiidokaaziwin is modelled after the medicine wheel and its four colours (black, red, yellow, white).

The centrepiece is a large, circular table, demonstrating the Indigenous worldview of inclusion and equality. A display case houses original works of art from former Indigenous students and ceremonial clothing donated by the elders from the James Bay area.

The Anmar Mechanical Indigenous Student Support Program provides eligible Indigenous students with up to $8,000 to cover the costs of tuition, ancillary fees, housing, and one visit home per semester.

It is available to Indigenous students in the second or third year of their programs or enrolled in a post-graduate certificate program.

Applicants must be interested in working in the mining or mining supply sectors.

Anmar is an industrial fabrication and installation company serving the smelting, refining and steel mill sectors.

The company's president, Gianni Grossi, said he was proud to be there for his family, but also as a Cambrian alumnus.

“This is the college that I went to, and it's a very humbling experience to be able to have graduated from Cambrian and get to see the growth from when I was here to what it is now,” he said. 

Angele Chartrand is Algonquin and studied in Cambrian’s social services program with an Indigenous specialization. Soon after she graduated, she became president of the Cambrian Indigenous Student Circle, focused on offering cultural support to students. 

Of all the benefits that come with the scholarship, she said, there is one in particular that will offer great benefit to Indigenous students: the funding to go home, once per semester. 

“When you leave home, when you come here, it's very much more westernized,” said Charttrand of the move to the city.

“Yes, you need your education and we realized that it has to be on Western terms, and that’s fine. But to be able to go back home at least once a semester, that's amazing for them just to reground their spirit. Then they can come back and give everything they have in their education.” 

You can find more information about Wiidokaaziwin and the Anmar Mechanical Indigenous Student Support Program by visiting the Cambrian College website, found here.