The third annual High School Friendship Lacrosse Day at Wilfrid Laurier University saw a turnout of 70 students from five different high-schools, ranging from grades nine to twelve on Oct. 25.
The event was organized by the Aboriginal Student Centre at WLU in partnership with Six Nations and New Credit, which are two Haudenosaunee and Ojibwa reserves located just outside of Brantford.
The invited students attended the event as an opportunity to not only develop their lacrosse skills, but to also get a taste of Laurier.
“It went really well,” said Kandice Baptiste, Aboriginal students recruitment and retention officer. “We got some evaluation forms done and every single one of the kids said …that they would return.”
Most of the morning was devoted to working on the student’s lacrosse skills.
Lynn Orth, the women’s field lacrosse coach at Laurier, ran drills for the students, which were supplemented by Laurier’s women’s lacrosse team. The male lacrosse coaches that were brought in for the day, all of which were National Lacrosse League (NLL) players from Six Nations and New Credit, participated as well.
“A lot of the kids know them because they’ve grown up on the reserves,” explained Baptiste.
“In our communities lacrosse and basketball are kind of the main sports, so they grew up around the game.”
“Lacrosse has many ceremonial purposes for Haudenosaunee and Ojibwa people, and it was gifted to Haudenosaunee people by the Creator to play,” she continued.
Aboriginal student support leader, Melissa Ireland, said that from her perspective, the students seemed to enjoy themselves.
“It’s a good opportunity for youth to come on campus and learn from National Lacrosse League players and heroes from their community, lacrosse skills, and come together and learn and play together,” she said.
After the morning of drills, students were fed lunch, during which speakers gave a presentation.
This year, Dan Kennedy and Cara Loft, co-presidents of the Aboriginal Students’ Association, spoke about their student experience.
“Just to give [students] an idea of what Laurier is like as a student,” explained Baptiste. “The challenges they faced, how they navigated it, why they chose Laurier- all that good stuff.”
Following lunch, students went on a campus tour. Ireland spoke with students at the Aboriginal Student Centre, which was one of the stops on the tour.
“I was able to give them a rundown of the services we provide at the Aboriginal Student Centre,” she explained.
“To welcome them … and to have these students feel like if they do choose Laurier, there is a place to find community amongst other Aboriginal students.”
Baptiste explained that a lot of the high school students who attended Lacrosse Day will be first-generation university students.
“[The goal was to] help close the gap in education achievement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in Canada,” Baptiste concluded. “So at the end of the day, whether they choose Laurier or not, this is just a means to hopefully close the gap between the two populations, help our kids make the choice and show them that there is a place for them at a university.”