For busy Sault College students, Odeno is billed as the school’s ‘outside of the books environment.’
Odeno (Ojibwe meaning ‘a place where many hearts gather’) is the college’s licensed on-campus restaurant, a not-for-profit business owned by the Sault College Student Union and staffed by students, having opened its doors in September 2013.
“It’s a place for students to get food, drinks and just kick back and relax. It’s one of the least academic areas in the college. Some people who are okay with more noise when they’re studying will come here, put on their headphones and study, but most come here to eat, have a beverage and hang out with their friends between classes,” said Grace Winter, Odeno supervisor and college student, speaking to SooToday.
Odeno is open seven days a week (hours vary), also open to the public.
“We offer a lot of different food, apart from pub food. We have specials. We’ve added international food with our increased international student presence here at the college. Over a third of our staff are international students. Sometimes they’ll make our international specials authentically, the way their parents have taught them to make it. It’s really good. We’re lucky to have such a diverse staff,” Grace said.
“It’s nice for a lot of students who live in residence. A lot of them will grab lunch or dinner here.”
“Students from the Natural Environment and Outdoor Studies department, which I’m a part of, go on a lot of camping trips, field trips, for five to seven days, and when they come back there are 30 or 40 people coming in here at once, get a beverage, say ‘cheers’ and relax,” Grace said.
Odeno is staffed almost entirely by Sault College students (about 40 in total), with the exception of two employees (Lua Turcotte, operations manager, and Marion Badgero, Odeno’s full-time cook, both employed by the Sault College Student Union).
It operates throughout the traditional school year, closed during the summer, Christmas and March Break.
Odeno holds some interesting special events, most recently a ‘Beer Yoga’ event Nov. 21.
“There were about 20 people. They came in and did yoga with an instructor but it also involved beer. It was ‘do the pose and take a sip,’” Grace smiled.
Odeno also holds Frosh Week in the fall and Frost Week activities in winter, as well as a Thanksgiving buffet.
The student staff, Grace said, is drawn from many of the college’s programs, including general arts and science, nursing, fish and wildlife, engineering and others, Odeno representing the largest on campus employment opportunity for students.
“Odeno’s not only a community for the students, but also for its staff. I’m in here pretty much every day, popping in and saying hi regardless if I’m working or not. I didn’t have classes today but I popped in to say hi,” Grace said.
“It’s convenient to have a job within the school, to be able to finish class and in 10 minutes start your shift. The staff itself is a community within a community, we have staff parties, we hang out together, we’re always talking and have Snapchat groups.”
Grace, a Toronto native, will be graduating from the college’s Adventure Recreation and Parks Technician two-year diploma program in the spring.
“When I came here, Odeno was my main source of social interaction. I was new, I didn’t know anybody and I came as a January intake student, so everyone in my program already had their friend groups, but Odeno really welcomed me.”
“I was a canoe guide this past summer at Algonquin Park, taking youth on eight day trips. It was really fun,” Grace said.
“I went to Ryerson and have a degree in social work, but I came up north because I wanted to see if I could make my love of the outdoors my career. I came here for a tour of the college. I liked how different it was from Ryerson. It’s smaller, a community. It’s been a good opportunity for me to grow.”