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Indigenous Student Services

Fostering community and enriching the learning experience

INVC Mural created by 2016 Summer Art Workshop participants led by facilitator Nancy King

The Indigenous Visual Culture (INVC) Student Centre offers a welcoming learning environment with a wide range of specialized services to support academic, cultural, social and emotional well-being of Indigenous students at OCAD University. 

The INVC Student Centre is a culturally activated space where students can meet, study or relax between classes. We host weekly events, guest lectures, workshops, visiting artists, field trips and a number of extra curricular activities supporting Indigenous visual arts and culture.
The Indigenous Visual Culture Student Centre is also welcoming to non-Indigenous students and visitors and is a resource for all OCAD U students, faculty and staff. The centre includes a resource library and archive, computer workstations, lounge, workspace and amenities including a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and snacks.

Services include:

Indigenous Student Counselor

The Indigenous Student Counselor - Shawna Howe provides one-to-one counseling services and culturally safe programs to support Indigenous students. The counsellor brings an Indigenous approach to wellness counseling by supporting students holistic (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) health and well-being, and facilitating weekly drumming circles, holistic wellness workshops and a visiting Elders program. These services are free, accessible, inclusive and non-judgmental.

Shawna Howe is a two-spirited, Anishinaabe and Mi’kmaq woman, with ancestors from Cape Croker and Shubenacadie First Nation. Shawna’s Spirit name is Red Cedar Tree Woman/Wolf Clan. Shawna is a painter, writer, beader, drummer and storyteller. She loves spending time on the land learning about traditional medicines and Indigenous art healing modalities. Shawna has spent several years volunteering in the Toronto Indigenous community and has worked in diverse roles supporting Indigenous students and Elders in post-secondary education. Shawna has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Ryerson University and a Masters of Indigenous Social work from Wilfrid Laurier University.

How to book an appointment:
If you would like to book a counseling appointment, or you have any questions, you can contact Shawna directly or stop by her office.
Phone: 416-967-6000 ext 349  
Location: 113 McCaul Street, 4th floor, room 401c
Schedule: Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday/ 9:00-5:00pm

Indigenous Mentor/Advisor

Indigenous Mentor/Advisor - David General assists students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with one on one support. The Mentor/Advisor acts in the capacity of a role model specializing in the arts for those students seeking creative advice and career counseling. The Mentor/Advisor also acts as a community liaison who builds bridges across the OCAD University and Indigenous community. 

Involvement and application are mantras of David General, Six Nations Elected Chief, Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, hunter and fisher are but a few of experiences he offers as examples for building a well rounded and balanced practice. An accomplished artist, Dave General has a wide scope of knowledge and experience ranging from Indigenous history, culture, art, politics and current events to the effectiveness of materials and presentations for specific projects.

Available or to book an appointment contact:
David General
Office: 416-977-6000 ext. 2265 or
Schedule: Tuesday & Wednesday/ 8:00am - 3:30pm

Academic Support

Writing and Learning Consultant: Indigenous Student Support - Nancy King provides tutoring support and academic guidance for the INVC program and students through one-to one consultations and culturally-based group workshops. The consultant works closely with OCAD U’s Writing and Learning Centre to organize workshops in writing, studying, and research for Indigenous students to support their learning objectives and writing skills.

Nancy King (Chief Lady Bird) is a Potawatomi/Chippewa artist from Rama First Nation with paternal ties to Moosedeer Point First Nation. She graduated from OCAD U's Drawing and Painting program in 2015 with a minor in Indigenous Visual Culture and has been exhibiting her work since she was fourteen years old. She works as a freelance painter, street artist, pow wow vendor and muralist, provides arts education through the TDSB's NAC10 program, facilitates workshops at the Native Learning Centre and has recently joined the INVC team as a Writing and Learning Consultant.

To book an appointment (9:00am – 5:00pm) contact: 
Writing and Learning Centre
416-977-6000 ext. 229 or login into TutorTrac

For information on the Bead & Read or Mighty Pen contact


Wednesdays  9am  – 7pm 
Alternating Thursdays 9am  - 6pm and 4pm - 7pm
Alternating Fridays 12pm - 5pm


Outreach & Recruitment

Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator - Violet Chum recruits and promotes OCAD U and the Indigenous Visual Culture program across Ontario communities with the Aboriginal Post Secondary Information Program (APSIP) and liaises with students, communities, school boards and high school guidance counselors.  The Recruitment and Outreach coordinator offers support for potential students in applying to OCAD U, leads student tours of the campus, organizes the INVC Summer Art Workshop, community events, student orientation and activities to attract interested students to OCAD U. 

Violet Chum is a Moose Cree First Nation member from Moose Factory Island, Ontario. She graduated with a BFA (Drawing & Painting) from OCAD University and has a BA (Indigenous Learning) from Lakehead University. 

Contact information:
Violet Chum
416-977-6000 ext. 3353

Indigenous Visual Culture Program & Student Centre

Coordinator, Indigenous Visual Culture Program and Student Centre - Melissa General offers overall coordination, guidance, communication, services and administrative support for the Indigenous Visual Culture Student Centre. The coordinator also supports the administration and initiatives of the INVC program and Delaney Chair. 

Melissa General is from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and completed a Masters of Fine Arts degree at York University. Working in photography, installation and video, concepts involving memory, history, land and her Indigenous identity have been a focus in her practice. Her work has been exhibited at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Gallery 101, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography and has been included in the 2016 Contemporary Native Art Biennial in Montreal.

Contact information: 
Melissa General
416-977-6000 ext. 2261

Ongoing Events

Weekly Buffalo Stew Lunch

Come socialize over a delicious lunch held every Wednesday.

Wednesdays from  12 to 2pm
INVC Student Centre
Room 1401, Level 4, 113 McCaul

Mighty Pen

The Mighty Pen meets every Wednesday, where ideas are shared, stories are created, and working collaboratively with others.

Wednesdays from  4 to 6pm 
INVC Student Centre
Room 1401, Level 4, 113 McCaul

Bead & Read

Bead & Read is a drop-in craft circle where we share ideas. Bring your readings and learn beading techniques. Find connections between ideas and art practices. We supply materials for beading.

Thursdays from 1 to 3pm
INVC Student Centre
Room 1401, Level 4, 113 McCaul Street.

Connect with us

Indigenous Visual Cultural Student Centre

113 McCaul Street, Level 4, Room 410

Melissa General
416-977-6000, Ext. 2261