Community update

Orientation, where you want to be

01 Sep 2021
This week marks the start of a ‘new year’ at Mount Allison as we welcome new and returning students back to campus.
By: Anne Comfort, Vice-President, International and Student Affairs

Thanks to faculty, staff, and students, in particular the Student Affairs team and Orientation committees, for all their work in making sure Orientation events are informative, fun, and safe, all following COVID-19 safety guidelines on campus and in the community.

We have seen nearly 300 students back on campus already with the start of International Orientation, Meighen Centre Orientation, and the return of residence staff, many athletes, and Orientation committee members with the support of faculty and staff. Later this week more than 650 first-year students will join us as well as many returning students both on and off campus.

Many events, where possible, are being held outside and in large spaces on campus with physical distancing protocols in place. Masks are required in all indoor spaces as well as certain outdoor events and venues. Following this year’s Orientation theme, campus is indeed, “Where You Want To Be.”

Friday, Sept. 3. is ‘Welcome Day’, and an additional outdoor tent has been set-up in front of the Wallace McCain Student Centre to welcome students and their families to campus. York Street will be closed between Salem and Lansdowne Streets. All students, staff, and family members (max of two per student) are required to wear masks when entering residences.

The Orientation program this year contains a number of new activities that are designed to be more inclusive in nature of the community. I see this as a time of growth for the University and hope you will join me in acknowledging and participating, where possible, in these new traditions.

  • Sweat Lodge Teachings (Thursday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.) – An Indigenous Elder will be on campus to provide teachings around the Sweat lodge. Any staff or students interested in taking part in a sweat this year should attend this session, taking place at the Sweat lodge on campus (behind Colville House). Out of an abundance of caution for the Elder, individuals will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses) and wear a mask throughout the session.
     
  • ‘Plein Air’ Welcome (back steps of the Owens Art Gallery facing York Street, Friday, Sept. 3 at 3:30 p.m.) — A welcome gathering for new students and their parents. President Boudreau and MASU President Charlie Burke will join me for this event. Physical distancing guidelines will be in place, masks encouraged. 
     
  • Pilei nipi (Tuesday, Sept 7, begins at 6:30 p.m. outside with a smudging, 7 p.m. ceremony in Convocation Hall with plans to livestream) — a full university ceremony that marks the beginning of a student’s time at Mount Allison. The Mi’kmaq word Pilei nipi signifies the beginning, a “new leaf in a tree.” In this sense, the Pilei nipi serves as an alternative welcome event for the traditional Commencement ceremony, and an appropriate way for the University to signal its commitment to truth and reconciliation. Acadian artist and activist Xavier Gould (’17) (Chiquita Mére) is this year’s guest speaker at Pilei nipi, and there will also be a short presentation on the University’s history by the Archives. Space will be limited with priority for incoming students, but we encourage all those able to attend, masks and distancing will be required. A livestream of the ceremony is also being considered.
     
  • Learning Day (Tuesday, Sept. 7, in-person and online) includes tours and sessions for students in all degree programs. Aimed at first-year students but with elements for second-year students, Learning Day focuses on academics, tools, and programs in place to help support students starting university. Upper-year students and professors from each degree program will be presenting, with the assistance of academic staff.

This year’s Orientation programming will also include sessions specific to a number of student learning areas, both in the classroom and outside including online student success, financial planning, sexual health and relationships, as well as wellness and other information sessions offered in previous years. The annual corn boil hosted by the Town of Sackville will take place on Sunday, Sept. 5, following all COVID-19 protocols. 

The full schedule is available on the Mt.Allison Orientation Guidebook app. With significant rainfall currently forecasted for Friday and Saturday, some events may need to be moved inside; any changes to locations or times will be posted on the app.
 
Again, thank you for your role in facilitating a safe return to campus and as well as the continued support for those students joining Mount Allison, both on campus and remotely.

Anne Comfort
Vice-President, International and Student Affairs

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