TIMMINS, ON: Students, staff, and members of the community gathered at Northern College Timmins Campus Wednesday to take part in a traditional Aboriginal sharing circle and give name to the college’s permanent tipi, which has become an integral component of the Northern experience and student life. Unanimously, the group decided upon Ma-Ma-Wi Kee-Kee-Nao, Cree for ‘Together our Home’.
Sixteen potential names were submitted by the Northern College community and Timmins Campus Elder David Faries guided the circle of 19 people as they considered each of them. The circle discussed the importance the name will have for the structure, and considered the values the name should reflect. They expressed that the name should be true to the traditional origins of the tipi while also reflecting its modern use as a symbol of sharing and equality.
Five names were selected by the group for final consideration, but one in particular, Kee-Kee-Nao, Cree for ‘our home’, was well-received by the group. Cree speakers in the circle wanted to ensure the name was as inclusive as the tipi itself and suggested the name begin with Ma-Ma¬-Wi, forming Ma-Ma-Wi Kee-Kee-Nao, meaning ‘together our home’. Ma-Ma-Wi was one of the other names to reach the final five.
“Our tipi is an essential college resource for the sharing of knowledge and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “It is the physical representation of our commitment to our Aboriginal students and the communities we serve. It was of great significance that the naming process be true to Aboriginal tradition. We are very pleased with Ma-Ma-Wi Kee-Kee-Nao, as it accurately reflects the purpose of the tipi and the values our college collectively holds. I am honoured to have been a part of the sharing circle.”
First opened in April, 2013, Ma-Ma-Wi Kee-Kee-Nao provides an inclusive environment which is used for cultural, community and educational activities, including Aboriginal teachings, traditional ceremonies and smudging. Ma-Ma-Wi Kee-Kee-Nao is used extensively by students, faculty, staff and members of the community and helps those who enter it connect with the spiritual and cultural wisdom of Elders.
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