Peter Gzowski College: Future Forward

The Gzowski College garden. Photo by Kortney Dunsby.

The newest and biggest ray of sunshine on campus is here! Gzowski College is the baby sibling of the colleges, contained in the large yellow building on campus along with the First People’s House of Learning, the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, the School of Business, the Office of Research, and Departments of Economics and Mathematics. Part of Gzowski’s most essential philosophy is that those that speak together also work beside each other in the spirit of collaboration.

This year, Peter Gzowski College is led by none other than incredibly involved and personable Melanie Buddle, who truly demonstrates that GC is Trent’s future-forward college.

Nendimowinan e-niigaanbidegin zhidchigaadenoon nongwa: The minds of the future are made great beginning today.

Enwayaang: the way we speak together

Melanie Buddle grew up in Lakefield, Ontario, but achieved her Bachelor of Arts at University of Guelph. Pursuing her education further, Buddle travelled to Northern British Columbia to pursue her Masters of Arts, and then moved to Victoria, B.C. to complete her doctorate soon afterwards. Currently, Buddle holds a PhD in Canadian History from the University of Victoria.

She began to work at Trent in 2003 in the History and Canadian Studies departments; Enwayaang had not been completed yet (2004), thus there was no Peter Gzowski College. After GC was opened, Dr. Buddle still held instructor and teaching assistant positions in academic departments, as it was what she genuinely loved to do. Dr. Buddle officially joined GC as an Academic Advisor in the year of 2009 and held the position of Principal of Gzowski when it was still a part-time role from 2011 to 2014. She stepped back to Academic Advising for Gzowski in 2014, as shifts in the college systems resulted in major changes to the positions they contained. In July of 2018, when the role of college principal was given a full-time position, Dr. Buddle returned to become the full-time Principal of Gzowski we know and love today.

Gzowski College hosts a large number of events on campus, including annual events such as the trip to the Curve Lake Pow-Wow (this year, three buses were filled), the Elder’s Gathering, the Ten Thousand Villages holiday pop-up shop, Enwayaang: An Event About Extraordinary Ideas (a TED Talk-like event with faculty speakers talking for 10 minutes each with no technology), and the ever-popular Community Lunches. Principal Buddle recommends keeping an eye out for some of the future events on the way, such as Indigenous Studies Research Days, Gzowski College Cabinet’s Winter Weekend, INDG Women’s Symposium & Women’s Leadership Series, Shine A Light On Our Global Sisters (Vigil for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), College Cabinet’s Student Formal, Trent University Native Association (TUNA) 50th Anniversary Dinner, as well as the annual College Awards Reception for students that are graduating.

When asked about what she thought about the people who affiliate with Gzowski and the community that surrounds it, Principal Buddle said, “We gather and we speak together, finding community and common interests despite coming from different places, speaking different languages or studying different subjects or disciplines. Our faculty members also speak with each other and across disciplines to further their own knowledge and to create inclusive classrooms. Trent thrives on interdisciplinary thinking and we embody that in our Gzowski College community.”

Dr. Buddle makes it very clear that she has many goals that she wishes to fulfill while she is Principal of Gzowski College.

Principal Buddle wishes to flesh out the “identity” of the college more fully – to use the language, ideas and academic themes in the college and building to engage students even more deeply, moving forward. She is still working on how to incorporate academic themes with what we think of as Peter Gzowski’s contribution to learning/language/community, with themes of alliance and reconciliation in collaborations with First Peoples House of Learning and with Indigenous partners in the community.

Principal Buddle also wants to build a common room so that Enwayaang can provide more study and social space to students in the College, to bring more alumni back to the College to interact with current students and attend events, and to find ways to get alumni involved with mentoring and meeting with current students.

She hopes to create a Conference fund, to encourage undergraduate students to attend conferences and possibly present papers; and to encourage them to bring back that knowledge and share it with other students here. Buddle would also like to work on getting more artists, writers, and scholars-in-residence, to promote meaningful connections with our students and staff.

Finally, she would like to enrich the learning communities in our college. Enwaayang has living and learning communities in residence with academic themes like Business, Indigenous Leadership, and Environmental Studies, but Dr. Buddle would like to expand those to all students in the college, beyond those living in residence: so, instead of only promoting “living and learning”, she would also like some that are for those who are “learning” on campus but living elsewhere. In terms of funding dreams, Principal Buddle aspires to be able to increase funding, perhaps with Collegiate Bursaries, to Indigenous students who may want to “live and learn” in GC but who find the cost of residential housing and meal plans prohibitive.

To learn more about Peter Gzowski College, click here.