Written by Betty Carr-Brandt
First Peoples House of Learning, Trent University
"Often, Indigenous students are struggling with the on-going impacts of colonization and historical trauma. Students are often struggling with their identity, working at reclaiming their identity, or may even be in the process of learning who they are as Indigenous peoples. They are also learning what it means to be a learner at a University, where there is often little Indigenous representation.
Throughout the years, we have heard from our students, the hurtful and often racist remarks they hear. Comments such as, “you don’t look like an Indian” or “let’s ask her/him, they are native”, thinking Indigenous students are experts on all things native, or “are you sure you are Aboriginal” and the list goes on.
We have been working to change these perceptions. To this end, we have been exploring how to counter these messages. It took us some time to find enough financing to create a project that would help us to create a poster series, called “Breaking Down Stereotypes”. We felt it was time to have Indigenous students speak to the truth of their experiences. We reached out to Indigenous students across Trent University and asked them to volunteer to be part of a Poster series that would look at breaking down the stereotypes they were facing. We felt that this would also eliminate some of the barriers that our Indigenous students face on a daily basis. We had the students choose which stereotype they wanted to speak to and we then countered the stereotype through photo messaging."