Opening the forum at the UPEMOR

The forum “Art, science and tradition for sustainability” started at the UPEMOR on Monday, March 14th 2016. This engineering university is the main host institution for this forum which started as a bi-national activity (Canada-Mexico) but has become a space to learn from many more nations, including Cree, Kanien’keha:ka and Nahuatl, all of which are indigenous nations. The first day, the inauguration of this itinerant forum took place at the UPEMOR. The day was filled with enthusiasm and many opportunities to share knowledge.


As a teacher at Dawson College, I felt proud to see two of our teachers (Selma Hamdani and Chris Adam) and a former student (Lily Ieroniawá:kon Deer) sharing three of Dawson’s initiatives that to me encompass our institutional vision and practice of sustainability; the Peace Center, the Living Campus initiative and the First Peoples’ Initiative. I wondered how often an engineering university creates spaces for such a vision to be shared. I feel this reflects the strong relationship of trust we are building between Dawson College and the UPEMOR.

Lily Ieroniawá:kon Deer not only presented on how the First Peoples’ Initiative began at Dawson College, but she also lead a reflection on the historical relationship between indigenous peoples and western education systems. Our partners in Mexico had the opportunity to learn about residential schools and about the important work ahead we must do to de-colonize our schools. Selma Hamdani spoke about Dawson’s Peace Center and Dawson’s efforts to not only teach about peace, but to create peace spaces for the educational community. Chris Adam introduced the concept of a Living Campus and how as a community we are creating a vision for the future of the College. He discussed how using Nature as a mentor can increase literacy of all kinds and emphasized the importance of the forum theme. This theme of linking the arts, science and culture was identified as powerful combination, as it fosters relationships critical to any desired change.

Art also had its place at the forum this day. Ricardo Maganda Gallardo, a local artist shared his creations through an exposition of “Art for sustainability”. Follow this, the CECAM (Center for Environmental Education and Capacity building at the UPEMOR) ran a “Water Rally”. We literally ran through the entire campus learning about water management. We made teams and competed against each other to see who knew more about water management and had a lot of fun in the process. Three Dawson students were involved in setting up the rally as part of an internship they have been doing at the CECAM for the last two weeks.

You would think we would call it a day at this point! But no! This is an itinerant forum so after these activities we went to the UPN Cuernavaca, another partner university, where we participated in a permaculture workshop that demonstrated personal connections between ourselves and medicinal plants. We even helped create a spiral medicinal plant garden!

It was a long day but we would not change a thing. This forum promises to be a great opportunity not only to learn about campus sustainability, but to build and strengthen important relationships between students, teachers and staff across educational institutions.


By: Gisela Frias

Last Modified: March 17, 2016