By Cari Kilmartin
A gathering in support of post-secondary education in rural Alberta
City councillor Agnes Hoveland characterized Augustana as a leading institution that creates leaders on the world, national, and local stages.
“The city and Augustana are, and have always been, attached at the hip — for 110 years,” she said, stressing the economic benefit — 70 million dollars annually — to the community.
Richard Bruneau, a local business owner (Fox & Fable) and former student, told the crowd Augustana is an integral part of community health, enabling growth and encouraging critical thinking.
“Sure, the liberal arts and sciences education of Augustana absolutely helped me get jobs, but, more importantly, it empowered me to find meaning and build meaning in partnership with other people, and to find humility in looking outwardly at the world,” he said.
In many ways, Newo was inspired to be a practical, postgraduate application for many of the principles taught in the Spirit of the Land course, and to explore the question: How does one apply compassionate, critical thinking to the business world while making best use of humanity’s diverse gifts?
In fulfilling this aim, Newo draws vision and inspiration from the Cree understanding of “wahkohtowin” that recognizes our connection to “all our relations.” On the Augustana campus, the Wahkohtowin Lodge serves as a centre for these teachings and symbolizes a common commitment to care for the world around us.
In closing the Saturday gathering, Rathnavalu acknowledged that Augustana is not a perfect institution, but a precious legacy that needs to be renewed with each generation. The Wahkohtowin Lodge is not a destination, but a promise that there is still much work that needs to be done.
The value of a liberal arts education is that it fosters the compassion and insight that enables us to fulfil this care for one another. The danger in degrading these institutions of higher learning is that we not only lose the imaginative and critical thinking that enables us to be productive in our work but also, more vitally, the compassionate connections that inspire us to make our work meaningful.