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Loyalist Indigenous Learning Circle construction nearly done

By Brock Butler [1]

An Indigenous Learning Circle is almost complete in the east field of Loyalist College campus. The stone turtle is a significant symbol in Indigenous culture, representing the earth. It is aimed so it is pointing towards the natural landscape and the pond. Photo by Brock Butler, QNet News

Last minute touches to the trees and landscaping for the new Indigenous Learning Circle on the east field of the Loyalist College campus [2]are almost complete, organizers said Wednesday.

Indigenous Resource Centre manager Paul Latchford [3] said he is very excited about the recent construction of the Learning Circle.  The purpose is to let students experience Indigenous culture. The structure has been under construction since the first week of April. The plan to have it done this week, he said. In the future, there are plans to add other features, he said.

The idea is to expand indigenous activities for students beyond the walls of the resource centre.

“The theory is that all the students participate, too. And, that’s the exciting part. This an opportunity for each student to get out and see what’s there,”  he said.

A Learning Circle is a place outdoors to learn and feel the grasp of nature while learning, he said.

“Learning is lifelong and a part of it is to get outside and learn the natural world,” he said.

His belief is that when learning much closer with the natural world it will help people, he said.

When inside people are cooped up in a classroom with very little access to the outside world, he said.

“I think by taking you outdoors, you’re going to become that whole round of person,” he said.

His goal for the Learning Circle on campus is to welcome students to events to let to experience Indigenous culture and take advantage of it while being out in the open nature. He said it would make people feel more welcome when joining in to experience Indigenous culture and help people adapt to newer things.

Paul Latchford is a manager of the Indigenous Services and Resource Centre. Photo By Brock Butler, QNet News. 

There are other Learning Circles throughout Ontario where one is at the First Nation Technical Institute and Canadore.

“Probably about half of the colleges have some type of learning circle,” he said.

He was in Northern Ontario where he saw a circle on the campus of Canadore College and said they have a lovely outdoor circle out there, he said.

The design of the Learning Circle has the shape of a turtle on the floor which represents the Turtle Island, or the Earth Mother, which represents how North America rests on the back of a big turtle. The Centre of the Learning Circle has a small fire pit with the medicine wheel painted on it, representing many different things involving race, seasons, medicine and more.

Latchford wanted to the Learning Circle designed in a way where it looked welcoming.

“We’re trying to work with the natural world and make it look like it should be there,” he said.

The features are to compliment the outdoor environment rather than make it intrusive, he said. Loyalist was a great place to have a Learning Circle on campus because it’s close to Tyendinaga and has ideas to expand to Tyendinaga with a Learning Circle there, as well, he said.