Living a good life: NorQuest’s Indigenous student space receives a new name

June 20, 2023

Living a good life: NorQuest’s Indigenous student space receives a new name

On June 16, at NorQuest College’s Indigenous Completion Ceremony, the Indigenous Student Centre was officially renamed Miyo-pimâtisiwin Centre – a name given through Indigenous ceremony by Indigenous elders – to honour and deepen the college’s connection to the land and its original inhabitants. The name is a welcome move and helps make the space more meaningful to Indigenous students.

Miyo-pimâtisiwin (pronounced meh-yo pimm is teh win) is a multi-purpose facility for Indigenous students and the college community. The space hosts ceremonies, counselling sessions with elders, and Indigenous Student Advisor academic services. It’s also a social gathering place, a spot where students can simply unwind, chat, and feel comfortable. However, something else was needed: an Indigenous name for the space.

“The process took time, and that’s a good thing,” says Donna Bell, Program Manager, Indigenous Relations and Supports. “We always wanted an Indigenous name, but elders advised us that the space needed some energy and spirit before receiving a name.”

In January 2023, it was felt the time was right to move forward. Elders Harold Watchmaker and Sundance Chief Dr. Clifford Cardinal performed a pipe ceremony in the space with learners and employees, along with members of the college’s executive team. The name was revealed a few hours later at a feast.

The concept of Miyo-pimâtisiwin is essentially “to live a good life”. This encompasses emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical ways of living one’s life on the land and in the community. Since NorQuest is a place where people strive towards a good life through the power of education, it’s a perfect name for a space that has helped many people at the college. The new name also is an opportunity for Indigenous students to see and experience more of their culture.

"The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action (10, 13, and 14) establishes the path for Indigenous people to see and use their language,” explains Bell. "Many students are English speaking and may not know their Indigenous language. The name helps tether people to their culture and history.”

NorQuest graduate Rob Gurney is grateful that the college has a space that supports the needs of Indigenous people. “It was really forward-thinking of NorQuest,” he says. “It is impactful having a safe space where tutors meet one on one with students. There aren’t many places you can smudge indoors but the centre allows this. This was helpful in calming my anxiety before tests and exams and helped to centre me.”