Indigenous students set up teepee on UWindsor campus
"Sleepy in the Tiipii" event designed to raise awareness of living conditions in Indigenous communities
The quad between Chrysler and Dillon Halls at the University of Windsor is one of the most popular areas of campus, with big leafy trees, sculptures and throngs of students walking between classes.
And for the next 24 hours or so, the open space will also feature a large teepee.
The traditional structure is part of an annual event and fundraiser organized by the university's Native Student Alliance called "Sleepy in the Tiipii."
"We get members from our alliance to volunteer to sleep on campus in the teepee, and they collect pledges at the same time," explained Destiny Soney, president of the group. "The purpose of us sleeping in the teepee outside in the cold ... is to help bring awareness of First Nations living conditions across Canada."
Visitors to the teepee will find posters outlining issues faced by Indigenous people.
When asked why the group chose to build a teepee, which were generally not built in this region, Soney said the structure was selected to keep things simple.
"A wigwam or lodge is a lot more difficult to build," she said, noting that the teepee being used is owned by the coordinator of the university's Aboriginal Education Centre.
"This region was known as a travellers' region for people to cross from different nations all over," Soney added. "We welcome the various cultures ... we have Indigenous students at the university who come from a variety of backgrounds."
One of the students sleeping overnight in the teepee is Jessica Chenier, who has been involved since the event started two years ago.
"This is part of my culture, it's part of who I am," she said. "I feel that doing things like this helps ... educate other people and diminish these stereotypes and ideas around Indigenous people that might be false — most are false."
Chenier hopes the event will also help strengthen the Native Student Alliance, which started in 2015.
Roughly seven students are expected to sleep in the teepee Wednesday night. A fire will not be permitted due to university regulations.
"It's going to be cozy," Soney said. "Hopefully we'll all keep warm telling stories and enjoying the event."