Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Kiknu “Our Home” —Indigenous Student Centre officially opens at StFX

February 26th, 2021
L-r, Mi'kmaw Elder and StFX Knowledge Keeper Kerry Prosper and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin joined together to officially open StFX’s Indigenous Student Centre and unveil its name, Kiknu, meaning 'our home' in English.

Kiknu, meaning ‘our home’ in English, is the name of StFX’s Indigenous Student Centre, officially opened on campus on Feb. 26.

Mi'kmaw Elder and StFX Knowledge Keeper Kerry Prosper and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin joined together to unveil the centre’s name during a ceremony held in Dennis Hall in the Coady Institute. 

“I give thanks for this,” said Elder Prosper as he welcomed all to the ceremony, held with a small number of in-person guests. Due to COVID-19, the event was livestreamed to the campus and broader community via StFX's Facebook page. 

Elder Prosper shared a most honoured, traditional welcome with everyone gathered for the official opening. The Indigenous Student Centre, he said, is a safe spot for our students, their families, and for all Indigenous people who come here. 

“We have lived here for thousands of years, but today we struggle to find safe spots in our homeland,” he said. 

“We will always remember this day.”

“It’s a special moment in StFX’s history,” Dr. Hakin said as he recognized honoured guests at the ceremony and thanked the community for allowing StFX to have this moment.

“I’m excited about the possibilities that Kiknu brings us.” 

Dr. Hakin says the name speaks to what this place can be and should be. “Our home, that’s what it says.”

He says he sees Kiknu as a place that will bring people together, where peer mentoring and learning happen organically, a place that will promote the success of students, and that will create an environment that promotes friendship and helps in the journey to bring about truth and reconciliation. It will be a place of growth, and a place to amplify Mi’kmaq culture in our daily lives and provide learning opportunities to all.  

“It will enrich the campus.” 

“I’m so glad that this is happening,” says StFX Faculty of Education professor Michelle Sylliboy, who brought greetings during the ceremony. She also thanked Terena Francis, Coordinator, Indigenous Student Affairs at StFX, for all her efforts to make this day possible. 

Prof. Sylliboy was involved in going back to the community to ask Elders, including StFX alumni, for their input on the name. Kiknu was suggested: “It’s a home away from home for these students.” 

Jeneva Dennis, a fourth year BA student, who emceed the afternoon event, spoke about the importance of the space. She said it is a place where she can come to study, to talk to people, and to be able to hold her culture close. 

StFX Vice President Students Elizabeth Yeo gave a Territory Acknowledgement and delivered opening remarks, noting that StFX is committed to honouring treaty relations because we are all treaty people. While StFX recognizes there is work still to be done, she says today is a meaningful step forward, celebrating the naming of this space, and creating a space with the hopes it ensures that Indigenous students feel safe, welcomed and honoured. 

 

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