Bishop’s University (BU) recently hosted a significant cultural event, welcoming a group of representatives from Japan’s Indigenous Ainu community. On Oct. 20, the delegation from the Nibutani area of Biratori, Hokkaido, presented at the university’s McConnell Agora in the Library Learning Commons (LLC).
Originating from Japan’s northernmost region, the Ainu delegation, actively involved in the Biratori Town Ainu Culture Promotion Association, shared their efforts in preserving Hokkaido’s ancient forests, traditionally the hunting and gathering grounds for the Ainu people. Their mission, focusing on the nurturing, restoration, and utilization of essential flora and fauna pivotal for the Ainu cultural traditions, was discussed in-depth.
Earlier in May 2023, a cultural exchange took place when the Ainu community hosted a group of Indigenous students from BU. This was facilitated through the Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) grant from Universities Canada under the project “Communicating Across Cultures: Building Intercultural Competencies and Lasting Partnerships in Japan.” Another student delegation from the university is slated to visit Nibutani in May 2024.
Following their engagement at the university, the Ainu delegation, accompanied by select students and staff from BU, ventured to Odanak and Kahnawake. Here, they liaised with community members and Elders. To chronicle their visit to Quebec, the Ainu delegation is producing a documentary film capturing their four-day journey.