by Kim Elaschuk
On Friday, Sept. 24 students at the University of Regina were given 20 minutes to build a home. It was all part of the third annual tipi raising competition, held on the campus green. The competition, put on by the Aboriginal Student Centre, aims to expose the student body to an important aboriginal art.
“It’s part of our culture. Let’s learn; let’s have fun doing it. And not only our First Nations, but to anybody,” said Elder and event emcee Glen Anaquod.
Besides learning the basic how-to, tipi raisers learned other lessons through the competition. When building a tipi, conditions aren’t guaranteed to be ideal. Sometimes it’s windy, snowy, or the ground is uneven. Anaquod believes working around these obstacles teaches real-life perseverance.
“It’s the same as life. You’ll never have the perfect conditions; you have to learn to make with what you have.”
Teams were split into an all student group, a women’s group, and an open group. Kimberly Wesaquate, a student at SIAST, was a competitor on the women’s team.
“I think we did awesome!” she said.
Her team practised before this year’s event. Preparing for the competition, she learned that teamwork was the magic ingredient for success.
“We had to pull together as a team. It took all of us – all four of us.”
Anaquod agrees that teamwork is one of the biggest lessons the Aboriginal Student Centre hopes participants take away with them.
“It teaches you not only how to put up a tipi, but those skills work in other aspects of life. In order to survive in life you can’t just rely on yourself.”
Most people have never even seen a tipi-raising, so the event can be intimidating for would-be competitors. Anaquod says if people really want to learn, they have to be willing to push themselves off the sidelines.
“You’ll never learn if you just sit back and watch. You’ve got to get up and participate.”
Those in the competition, or lucky enough to catch it on their way to class, got a quick glimpse at a part of aboriginal culture. Besides construction, these tipis taught their creators a myriad of life lessons. The education obtained is part of the reason the Aboriginal Centre chose this type of contest.
Anaquod sees symmetry between the two places.
“A tipi is a home, the same as the university is a home for its students.”
-Photo by Cheyenne Geysen