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Ontario Tech unveils name of its newest building: Shawenjigewining Hall, honouring kindness and friendship

The Indigenous name announced during a sacred naming ceremony

Artistic rendering of Ontario Tech's newest building, Shawenjigewining Hall.
Artistic rendering of Ontario Tech's newest building, Shawenjigewining Hall.

Shawenjigewining (pronounced: "zha-wen-ji-GEH’-win-ing") Hall is the name for Ontario Tech University’s newest building located at the university’s north Oshawa campus location.

Members of the university’s Indigenous Education Advisory Circle (IEAC) and the senior leadership team gathered for a traditional Indigenous naming ceremony on June 29.

The naming ceremony followed Indigenous protocols, such as the lighting of a sacred fire, smudging of ceremonial items and participants, playing an honour song, a pipe ceremony and a water blessing.

During the ceremony, four sponsors (individuals entrusted to ensure the traditional name is remembered and honoured) called the name out to the four directions. The ceremony concluded with a traditional Indigenous feast and celebration.

The building’s name supports the university’s commitment to work towards reconciliation and to create an inclusive environment that acknowledges Indigenous histories and celebrates Indigenous cultures.

The meaning of Shawenjigewining

Shawenjigewining is an Anishinaabe word meaning 'the kind place'. The name was first determined by Dorothy Taylor, a Mississauga Anishinaabe Elder from Curve Lake First Nation and Rick Bourque, Traditional Knowledge Keeper at Ontario Tech. While conducting a sweat lodge ceremony, Bourque had a vision of a deer and arrows crossed. He later shared the vision with Elder Taylor who interpreted the vision and the name Shawenjigewining, a place of kindness and friendship, was revealed.

A plaque with the building’s name, its meaning, and a picture of a deer was revealed during the ceremony. The plaque will be permanently displayed in the front foyer of the building to commemorate the event.

Excerpt from the plaque’s inscription

“Kindness is a central teaching to Indigenous people, and the deer represents kindness and enduring friendship. It is hoped that this location will become an enduring place of kindness and friendship.”

About Shawenjigewining Hall

The four-storey, 7,432-square-metre building adjacent to the Campus Library and Energy Systems and Nuclear Science Research Centre completes the university’s quad—Polonsky Commons. It is scheduled to open in Fall 2021 and it will be home to Ontario Tech's Faculty of Health SciencesOffice of Student Life, Continuous Learning, and the Ontario Tech Student Union.

Shawenjigewining Hall will also include Mukwa’s Den, an Indigenous space that offers a home away from home for Indigenous students, and space for all students to connect and learn from Indigenous culture and resources.

The building will offer technology-enhanced academic, administrative and student support spaces, research labs, classrooms and faculty offices, a range of study and lounge areas, and space for student-run societies and clubs. It will be an additional campus hub for collaboration and experiential learning opportunities.

The four sponsors from Ontario Tech

Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor.
Dr. Lori A. Livingston, Provost and Vice-President, Academic.
Joshua Sankarlal, President, Ontario Tech Student Union.
Rachel Radyk, Ontario Tech Health Sciences graduate and member of the IEAC.


“The naming of Shawenjigewining Hall honours Ontario Tech’s Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community, and continues the university’s commitment to an inclusive learning environment where we achieve success by prioritizing reconciliation. The name’s meaning, ' the kind place' beautifully captures the restorative, regenerative intention of the building for all community members. Entering Shawenjigewining Hall is intended to alleviate anxiety and stress and bask in the kindness and collaboration of our community.
-Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ontario Tech University

“I am grateful to all those involved in holding Ontario Tech’s first Indigenous naming ceremony. Choosing an Indigenous name for the building reflects the university’s commitment to work towards reconciliation and celebrates Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing.”
-Catherine Davidson, University Librarian, and Co-Chair, President’s Indigenous Reconciliation Task Force, Ontario Tech University