Otonabee College: the Ravenclaw of Symons campus?

Over the years many students have speculated what house each of Trent’s colleges would be if this were the wizarding world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. The self-evident truth is that Otonabee College would be the equivalent to Ravenclaw House.

Ravenclaws are known for being academically motivated, exceptionally talented and priding themselves on their originality. OC is known for much of the same, standing as a hub for intellectual growth, which is probably why many programs actively utilize their spaces when educating Trent students. Known for its lecture halls and the spaces in which many students choose to do their outreach, OC has been central for students to gather and connect. Situated on the West Bank between Gzowski College and the Science Complex, Otonabee College was officially opened in 1973.

OC Cabinet President Tim Hance let us know that his is “the third college built on campus and, in terms of students affiliated with us, the largest with around a quarter of the student population.” Named after the river that runs through Symons Campus, Otonabee comes from an Anishinaabemowin word meaning “bubbling like a beating heart” which was in reference to the fast paced waters of the river prior to European settlement in the area.

Otonabee College has incorporated various Indigenous cultures and artwork through out its halls and classrooms. From housing the Indigenous Studies Department prior to the building of Enweying, to the early days of the Trent University Native Association (TUNA) using its rooms to create spaces for Indigenous students. Many first year students get to experience their first university lectures in the seats of Wenjack Theater.

For a vast majority of the Indigenous population at Trent, it holds a special place in their hearts because of whom the room is named after. A plaque placed near the doors to the theatre tells the story and tragic end of a young boy named Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack. Wenjack was an Anishinaabe boy who died due the freezing cold, after running away from residential school while trying to make it back home to his community. For an Anishinaabe student Jasmine Panacheese, remembering OC’s “Anishinaabe roots, like how Otonabee is the river which comes from an Anishinaabemowin word,” is one of the most important things she wants students to know about the college. She added that her experiences living in residence were highly enjoyable. “Orientation week was great.”
For TUNA President Denise Miller, who was an off-campus OC student during her first year, the college’s ties to TUNA is what makes the college special to her.

“As Canada’s oldest and longest running Native association, its cool to know that some of the rooms in Otonabee are where a lot of that ground work was started,” she states while reminiscing about her first year as an Otonabee student. Miller goes on, “Even though I lived off-campus I always felt a part of Otonabee, I’ve spent a lot of time learning there.”

Finding one’s place at university during the first year of a degree is vital in ensuring later success. For OC Cabinet President Timothy Hance, finding his “niche” is why he chose Otonabee College.

Hance recalled, “I chose OC because on my first tour of Trent, I heard it was where the artists and musicians were. Being a bassist, and choosing a school without a music program, I was determined to find a niche for myself.”

Both Panacheese and Hance remembered the same chant when we discussed what part of the college spirit they remembered from their time during Orientation week.

Both of them, along with Miller, agreed that their favourite place to spend time in the college was a place known as K House. As Hance explained, “It’s just above SC137. It’s a great place to hang out and study, as well as to people-watch.”

College governance is great way for students to get involved with their college cabinets as well as a chance to speak up for other students. Arthur asked Hance what made him want to join his Cabinet.

“I joined Cabinet as a means of getting involved in my college.” He explained, “I chose to run for Junior Senator. Three years later, I’m now president.”

Looking towards the future, Otonabee College has some big and exciting events planned for the winter semester. The OC Formal is happening on January 19th at Junction; OC will be helping to run the annual East vs. West Hockey Tournament, and the spring elections are coming up. Hance stated that his team will be posting the deadlines and all available positions at a later date. For other events planned by cabinet members, keep your eyes on the Facebook and Twitter pages.