SAIT's Chinook Lodge celebrates 20 years of serving Indigenous learners

The Chinook Lodge Resource Centre opened its doors on September 22, 2001
The Chinook Lodge Resource Centre opened its doors on September 22, 2001

“Healing,” “calming” and “grandma’s house” are just some of the ways students describe the comfort and familiarity they feel in the Chinook Lodge Resource Centre — a place for Indigenous learners to gather, connect with peers and access a team of advisors for support.

On top of being a warm and welcoming physical space on SAIT’s campus, the community spirit and sense of belonging are what make “the Lodge” so much more than a place — it’s a support system. Since opening its doors on September 22, 2001, the Chinook Lodge has helped thousands of students flourish while studying at SAIT by providing emotional, spiritual, academic and financial support, and offering opportunities for students to realize their potential.

Recent Bachelor of Business Administration graduate Connor McCallum is one of the many who have benefited from all that the Lodge has to offer.

When McCallum began at SAIT, he played for the Trojans men’s hockey team and had built-in community and friendships. But he was seeking something more. Something to nurture his path of self-discovery and help him connect back to his Indigenous roots.

“When my dad passed, I realized what I wanted to find within myself spiritually,” he says. “Growing up, my mom had always been influential and supportive of me trying to learn more about our heritage and find out what we’re really about.”

When McCallum learned what the Lodge was able to offer Indigenous students, he began making the short commute from where he was living in residence to spend more time there and get to know the community. Shortly after, he volunteered to serve as Co-Chief of the Saitsa Indigenous Students’ Association (SISA). Despite having a full schedule, this was something he felt could help him give back and feel more connected to the community.  

While on SISA, he and Co-Chief Kassie Haley planned events like bowling, movie nights, karaoke and even a ceremonial sweat lodge at the Morley reserve.

“I brought two of my closest friends on my hockey team who were open to learning about my culture, which was huge to have their support,” he says. “We sweat with an Elder and after that experience we would see the Elder and his family up in the hockey stands cheering for us at all of our playoff games.”

The Chinook Lodge Resource Centre opened its doors on September 22, 2001
McCallum (right) and his teammates at a ceremonial sweat lodge.

On top of organizing events through SISA, his involvement with the Lodge gave him the support and fulfillment he was looking for in his post-secondary experience.

His efforts to give back and bring both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students together didn’t go unnoticed and he recently was awarded the Therese Murray Award through Saitsa. Recipients of this award are recognized for their passion towards contributing to a cause that is greater than themselves and for positively impacting the SAIT community.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” he says. “I could see my career shaping to support that reconciliation journey for years to come. My time at SAIT and at the Lodge has been a key stepping stone for that.”

A home away from home

In addition to emotional, financial and spiritual support, the Chinook Lodge Resource Centre offers:

  • teachings by Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers
  • cultural and language opportunities
  • a private smudge room with traditional medicines
  • one-on-one advising: program, funding, housing and application support
  • a quiet study space with computers and internet/printing access
  • celebrations and social gatherings
  • professional networking and career services
  • student leadership opportunities
  • special guest Indigenous speaker series
  • one-on-one tutoring, academic skills workshops and success seminars
  • cultural awareness sessions for all faculty, staff and students.

The Lodge is an inclusive environment open to the entire SAIT community. To inquire about advising, support and events, connect with us: