Tea and bannock to spark conversations at MRU
By Christian Kindrachuk, Staff Writer
MRU is a small university compared to student body sizes at other universities across the province and throughout Canada. However, that makes MRU a unique hub for community-building events like the Building Bridges event held by SAMRU.
The event, “Building Bridges: Tea and bannock talking circle,” aims to bring people together in a friendly environment to talk about Indigenous, Canadian and international issues.
Cory Cardinal, the host, is the cultural and Indigenous inclusion programmer with SAMRU. He looks forward to seeing people come by and having a meaningful discussion of issues that have impacted them.
“We develop programs — cultural programs and events — to create awareness and to help the students develop some of their ideas,” Cardinal says.
The event does not just offer awareness to people who are looking to talk about topics they care about, it also brings together people who may be looking to make friends when they first start at university.
For people like Grace Heavy Runner, who started attending Mount Royal in 2015, she had troubles not knowing a lot of people in the community on campus, but says that this event helped her connect with new people.
“[It] doesn’t matter how old you are, maybe I can make some more friends here and start building that way because I didn’t know a whole lot of people and I think that’s really important when you have that support,” Heavy Runner says.
Being open to anyone helps to bring the community together and answer any questions that people have when they come by.
“Building community is very important. We do that with our clubs — we try to get them involved in several of our events and activities. We do that with the different departments on campus and with individual students. It’s a good way to meet people and to share the space,” Cardinal says.
The event offers the chance for meaningful dialogue and for meeting new people.
“It’s just really surprising how fast you can develop friends and again, build that community and the support I just feel like it was a great idea,” Heavy Runner says.
The tea and bannock talking circle is significant in that it can mean something different for everyone. For Cardinal having the bannock is a symbol of colonization, whereas for Heavy Runner it is symbolic of a family traditional dish.
“I grew up with bannock and fried bread as a little girl. My mom and my aunt would make it and to me, it’s a traditional dish,” Heavy Runner says. “Now, I could honestly say that because it’s always been with Indigenous families — like every house I went into you could smell the delicious bannock and cooking.”
The event series is taking place in Wyckham House on the second floor in room Z203 once a month from noon to 3 p.m. as a walk-in. The next event will be held on March 23 and can be found on the SAMRU Facebook page.
“I think it’s important because it gives us a chance to reach out to the community and show them what we’ve got and give others the opportunity to come see what we’re about,” says Cardinal.