Street Address : 146 Barrie Street
Period: After 1950
The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, situated at 146 Barrie Street on the edge of the Queen’s University campus, strives to enhance and bring awareness to Aboriginal experience in Canada as well as to educate about its heritage. The name “Four Directions” stems from the centre’s aim to provide resources that balance and strengthen four distinct avenues of well-being: academic, spiritual, emotional and physical. Harmony among these four avenues is integral to the success of the Aboriginal student population at Queen’s. The centre’s inclusion of resources for spiritual health has contributed heavily to its success, as spirituality is a significant and valued facet of Aboriginal culture. It is a facet, however, that is generally overlooked by other guidance options, which focus more on emotional and physical well-being and therefore fail to fully meet the needs of Aboriginal students.
The centre is proactive in addressing sensitive topics concerning Aboriginal issues or questions that may arise at Queen’s. To ensure a seamless transition from Aboriginal culture to university life, information and guidance is readily available to both students and staff. An Aboriginal council was established in 1992 t o ensure that future generations of Aboriginal students had access to higher education at Queen’s and that measures were taken to educate faculty and staff of the broader issues faced by Aboriginal students. The council, composed of Aboriginal representatives from communities in Ontario, Aboriginal student representatives at Queen’s and senior University personnel, is directly involved in decisions affecting Aboriginal programs and services at Queen’s. Annual events such as the Symposium on Indigenous Research and the Pow Wow have helped to create a more welcoming environment at Queen’s as well as to educate the larger population on Aboriginal culture, traditions and history.
Apart from the extensive information and guidelines available through Four Directions, the centre also serves as a sanctuary for Aboriginal students on campus. A traditional teepee can be seen from Arch Street, in the backyard of the centre, where talking circles, ceremonies and teachings are shared. You may also find a student in the teepee, studying, meditating or relaxing. The centre also houses traditional ceremonies and gatherings, such as the Three Sisters Feast Night on Wednesday evenings and Moon Ceremonies, where female Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, staff and community members seek guidance from Grandmother Moon as well as renew their energy in ceremonial offerings to her. The centre supports all cultural groups of Aboriginal students in all four avenues of their well-being, especially their spirituality, as well as advocates for their needs to ensure that Queen’s University and the surrounding community are responsive to the unique issues that they face.