Gzowski College. Enweying. The big Cheddar. The little Swiss.
Whatever its name, Trent’s newest college is arguably its most interesting. Gzowski College is thriving as a living and learning space. After only ten years, the college has built an identity that complements the identity of the university at large, while also offering opportunities and perspectives that are unique and stand out amongst the rest of the colleges.
Gzowski College was built out of a need for the housing of new students. Due to the 2003 removal of grade 13 in secondary schools, universities expected the amount of students to apply and study at Trent to double. At the time, Trent had recently just closed Peter Robinson College, a downtown college, and was planning to do the same with Traill. This left only the colleges Champlain, Lady Eaton, and Otonabee to deal with the double-cohort hoping to attend Trent. In response, Trent managed to obtain a grant through the SuperBuild program, which allowed for Gzowski College to be built.
The name Gzowski comes from renowned CBC journalist Peter Gzowski. Gzowski was Trent’s eighth chancellor, and passed away in 2002. The college’s name was chosen to remember his contributions to Trent as well as to Canada throughout his work. As a journalist, Gzowski was often concerned with what it means to be Canadian, and highly analytical of Canadian identity.
Gzowski College is also named Enweying, which translates from Nishnaabewin to “The way we speak together”. The college represents a hope for community, and is highly representative of Indigenous identity. The colours of the building itself represent the four colours of the medicine wheel, which are yellow, red, black, and white. While many people joke about Gzowski looking like cheese, it is important to know that the college architecture was deliberately created to look as it does. Furthermore, the college upon its creation was asked to “sit gently upon the land”, as to honour the land itself, and the indigenous community that identifies with that land. Finally, Gzowski College houses The First People’s House of Learning which includes a lecture hall, a performance space, and a gathering space, as well as a tipi. While representing Indigenous identity, the college also is home to Economics, Business, and the Math departments.
Gzowski College Head Lindy Garneau sat down to chat with Arthur Newspaper to outline her role as College Head and to highlight all of the awesome happenings that occur at Gzowski on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis.
Garneau obtained the job through a pragmatic approach. Coming from Cambellford, Ontario, a member of the Bear Clan, she attended Trent due to its proximity to home. She chose to study Indigenous Studies and History. After graduating from Trent with an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in History and Indigenous Studies, she began working at Trent holding positions in the accessibilities, First People’s House of Learning, and Indigenous Students departments, while even teaching in the Indigenous Studies’ diploma program. By combining the skills she learned in these different positions, she was able to transition naturally to becoming College Head of Gzowski.
When asked what her job activities look like, Garneau provided a helpful visual chart. The chart contained four subcategories. However, each subcategory held the theme of community building as the most important goal of the job.
“There are four major areas, but they all have to do with community building.” She stressed that her day-to-day “could look like anything”.
The first category had to do with focus. That is, a focus on anybody involved with Trent from current students, and alumni, to faculty, and the Peterborough community at large. Garneau stated that, “it doesn’t matter what year you’re in, the college is involved in some way.”
The second category had to do with events hosted by the college, which can range from college-specific events, to university-wide occasions, to independent student-hosted gatherings. These can be either academic or social, and help facilitate a specific college identity, as well as a relationship to the university on the whole.
The third responsibility category was titled Student Leadership, which entails “training and workshops provided to student staff and the cabinets.” As Lindy puts it, “the hope is these will give students more opportunities to get involved.”
The final category is everything else. This includes the college’s image, the budget of the college, the spaces involved with the college, as well as speaking to any committees and advisory councils.
The role of the College Head is to facilitate student life by the balance of leadership, academics, leisure, and college identity. Garneau does this by being a figure-head for the college, whilst also planning it events, and acting as an advisor to those who need guidance within the college. Gzowski College’s history is still growing, and its identity is not static, but still changing. With Garneau at the helm, however, the college can only grow to bigger and better places.
At the end of the conversation Lindy provided the results of a survey. Its question was simply, “What do you believe is unique about the college?” The answers most often given had to do with the architecture and the Indigenous identity. Next was the residence itself, and then the community spirit of the college, with environmental awareness, the College Cabinet, and the academic departments rounding out the list. Each one of these things makes Gzowski unique, and although Gzowski College is young, it does not lack depth in its importance, and beauty.
Events hosted so far this year include:
Tipi Talks: Opportunity to learn about the Enweying Tipi and The FPHL Traditional area
Annual Bus Tip to the Curve Lake Pow-wow
Indigenous Cooking Class
Ten Thousand Villages Pop-Up Shop: A fair-trade goods shop in collaboration with the Ellen Bentzen Fund
Events to look forward to:
Enweying: An Event about extraordinary ideas on January 28th from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM
More Indigenous Cooking Classes: Time TBD
Gzowski College Winter Weekend: February 10th-12th
Shine a Light on Our Global Sisters Vigil on March 7th from 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Long Night Against Procrastination on March 8th from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM