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Academic News

Indigenous Education

Indigenous Language Program Info Session

June 18, 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020 | 11 am
Red River College – Indigenous Education Facebook Page

Join Indigenous Language Instructor Corey Whitford and Indigenous Liaison Advisor Monica Morin for a live Q+A on Facebook to get an in-depth look at our Indigenous Language programs offered in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and Inninew (Cree). Find out more about what classes will look like this fall, what you can expect to learn and what you need to get started. Plus, we’ll start off with Ojibwe word of the day!

Click here for the Facebook event.

Celebrate Virtual Indigenous Celebration at Home

June 2, 2020

RRC Virtual Indigenous Celebration
Friday, June 5, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Red River College – Indigenous Education Facebook Page

“RRC’s annual Pow Wow has been a point of pride for the College for nearly 20 years and has been a tremendous way to honour, celebrate, and make Indigenous culture more accessible for the College community. Although we are not yet able to be together physically, we still are, and will always be, dedicated to advancing Indigenous achievement and embedding Indigenous ways of knowing and being,” says Isabel Bright, Acting Dean, School of Indigenous Education. “We want to ensure we are doing what we can to help students celebrate important milestones and reminds them that they are part of a community.”

Our annual Indigenous student celebration is moving online! We are excited to create a virtual place that makes our students feel special, honours their achievements, and holds space for Indigenous culture and teachings. Join us Friday, June 5 for a Facebook live stream featuring some special performances on the Indigenous Education Facebook page.

Although we can’t all be together, we can find ways to celebrate and mark this special occasion. If you’d like to host your own Celebration at home, or create a special moment for yourself to honour your journey, we’ve included some ways that can add to your celebrations – online and offline.

Registration is now closed to be included in the Virtual Indigenous Celebration, but students can still register to receive a mailed gift by visiting until June 19.

Making Bannock at Home

May 28, 2020

Our annual Indigenous student celebration is moving online! We are excited to create a virtual place that makes our students feel special, honours their achievements, and holds space for Indigenous culture and teachings. Join us Friday, June 5 at noon for a Virtual Indigenous Celebration Facebook live stream featuring some special performances on the Indigenous Education Facebook page.

Get ready to host your own at home celebration by making bannock with a recipe from our own “Cooking with the Coyote” Corey Whitford, Indigenous Language Instructor. We are so excited he is sharing his bannock secrets with us!

“The art of making a delicious bannock as follows:

  • In a medium bowl, eye ball all of your ingredients, just like my koko used to do it.
  • First, put around three cups of flour.
  • Add half a tablespoon of salt and a full tablespoon of baking powder. Stir all the dry ingredients in the bowl.
  • Now make a well in the center of your bowl by pushing all the mixed flour towards the edge.
  • Next, add about a cup and a half of warm water.
  • This next step is the most critical part of the journey to a well-made bannock. Gently use a spoon to begin scraping small portions of the wall of the bowl – be sure to take only small increments each time. Make sure to do this until all the flour is combined into the water.
  • When you are done mixing thoroughly and all flour is mixed in; it should be a thick medium texture.
  • Start folding the dough right inside the bowl about twenty times or until it feels like it is not sticky.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius.
  • Pull out the dough from the mixing bowl and put it on a lightly floured area of your counter and begin flattening it with a flat patting down movement.
  • This is the part where you don’t want to knead the dough too much because if you do… your bannock will become real hard. So make sure that you knead the dough only about 3-4 times, it should not take too long to do.
  • Place it on a baking tray, then take a fork and start poking holes in the flat kneaded dough.
  • Put the baking tray in the oven for about 23-25 minutes. It should rise and turn into a golden brown colour as it bakes.
  • Take it out and slather it with butter all over; stand it up on the kitchen counter for about 10 minutes.
  • After ten minutes of standing, rip-off a giant piece of bannock; put butter on it, and then slather it again with raspberry jam.

And there you go a-la-bakwezhigan!”

Winnipeg artist releases free Anishinabee colouring sheets

April 14, 2020

Winnipeg artist Jackie Traverse and her publisher Fernwood Publishing have released six free printable colouring sheets from her colouring books Sacred Feminine and IKWE for a relaxing stay-at-home activity for kids and adults. The beautiful images feature Ojibwe Florals, Courage from the Seven Teachings, selections “Honouring Women, Life Givers, and Water Protectors,” and more.

Click here to download the colouring sheets.

The Anishinabee artist’s work was recently unveiled as one of the main design features of the College’s new 100,000 square-foot Innovation Centre, currently under construction on in the Exchange District. The piece will span approximately 1,000 square-feet across the inside and outside of the building’s fourth floor ceiling, and will be visible from blocks away.

Now we can all have a piece of her artwork in our homes!


RRC Announces First Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award Recipient

April 6, 2020

Red River College’s School of Indigenous Education, in partnership with the Campus Store, is honoured to present the first Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award to Child and Youth Care student Morgan Barbanchon. The word Mínwastánikéwin is Cree and means ‘to set it right.’

“Finding out that I was the person who was chosen, I almost cried. I felt special,” says Barbanchon, whose spirit name is Ogima Wabishkay Gekek (Leading White Hawk), and is from the bear clan. “I was really excited. It’s a lot to take in.”

Barbanchon wrote a compelling essay selected by a committee based on the question, What Does Truth and Reconciliation Mean to You? In her essay, she shared a personal story about how the intergenerational effects of colonialism have impacted her and her family, but how she is now on a path of reconciliation, education and healing.

“It’s a long journey. It took me six years to understand myself better and feel a connection with myself and my spirit. It was after I got sober that the journey began for me, and it solidified it even more so after coming to Red River College.”

“College has changed my life quite a bit. I have learned so much about myself. I’m a completely different person before coming into this program and going to Red River. I just found the beauty in Indigenous culture that I was searching for my whole life. I never knew how beautiful our culture was and it made me more proud to be who I am.”

She enrolled in the Child and Youth Care program to better understand how she can help her family and her community. During her studies, she has had more access to Indigenous culture, spirituality and ceremony and has been sharing her teachings with her family.

“Making sure that I do not continue this vicious cycle of intergenerational trauma is very important to me because I feel that I am setting an example for those whom I love. I believe that people can heal on Creator’s time, not mine.”

When she completes her program this spring, she says she will bring her spirituality into her work with children and people in need.

“I feel like we have to start with our spirits and go from there. I bring healing wherever I go. I have replaced resentment with empathy and compassion towards others.”

This new award that seeks to advance Indigenous achievement was a grassroots initiative, created by the generous support of the College community during the first Truth and Reconciliation week. Staff and students purchased specially designed t-shirts at the Campus Store that bring awareness to Indigenous issues and key dates Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day.

“This award is all because of students, staff and faculty showing their advocacy and ally ship with Indigenous issues. It has been a wonderful surprise and we hope we can continue to find new ways to support our Indigenous students,” says Carla Kematch, Manager, Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement. “We loved how Morgan expressed herself and her spirituality, and how she has embraced a personal responsibility to help heal others in not only her career choice, but in her personal life as well. She owned and shared her truth with a brave vulnerability. She is an example of understanding truth and using it to heal herself, her family and her community. She is a positive beacon of hope and we couldn’t be more proud.”

“The Campus Store would like to congratulate Morgan Barbanchon on being selected for the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award. We are humbled that we could play a small part in her incredible journey,” says Anthony Carl Francisco, Manager, Campus Store & Print Shoppe. “We are also so excited by the College’s passion to show their support for important initiatives like Truth and Reconciliation. I’m happy that our team is finding ways for staff and students to express themselves, support College activities, and help students succeed. I hope we can continue this program in the future.”

“I just want to be an example for those who are really trying, and are wanting to do better in their life and getting an education. I really appreciate this award. It motivates me to continue with my education, even after Red River College,” says Barbanchon.

Healing with Cedar at Home

March 25, 2020

Miyâhkasikan (Cree)
Giizhik (Ojibwe)

Cedar, along with tobacco, sage and sweet grass, is one of four sacred medicines recognized in many Indigenous communities for ceremony, healing, and wellness. These four medicines can be used in ceremony separately, or in any combination, especially if there is a certain goal to be achieved. In particular, cedar is used for healing, restoring balance and protection against disease. Not only does cedar have anti-inflammatory effects, improves respiratory organs and decontaminates the air, the aroma is comforting and calming.

There are many ways to reap the benefits of cedar; you can smudge with cedar, wear cedar in your shoes, make cedar tea, or simply boil cedar on your stove to release its properties.

Wellness Advisor Donna Glover, Kha-niso ostigonit migisew (the Eagle with two heads), Wapiski muskwa (White Bear Clan), has provided the steps to smudge with cedar and make cedar tea below.

Ceremonial: Smudging

When we smudge, we send our intentions through smoke to the spirit world. As part of our journey in this human experience, we continue to build new relationships while severing old ones. At times, we recognize the need to clear the space of unwanted spirits. We also recognize there are times to build relationships in life with our spirit, spirit helpers, and the spirit world.

Dried cedar is placed in a bowl, or other safe container, and ignited. The flame is then extinguished, allowing the cedar to smolder. The smoke that rises is then fanned using one’s hand or a feather. There is no right or wrong way to smudge, you can do what feels natural to you. Move the smoke from the top of your head, over your eyes, mouth, ears, hearts and bodies. Focus on the sensation of the smoke while centering your mind and calming your spirit.

How to Make Cedar Tea

  • Harvest fresh green leaves, only gathering as much as you need.
  • Remove any seeds or brown pieces.
  • Rinse cedar to remove dirt particles.
  • Allow time to dry, at least four days.
  • Crush leaves using a mortar and pestle.
  • Boil water in a pot or kettle.
  • Pour hot water into tea pot and add crushed cedar leaves.
  • Allow time for the leaves to soak until the water becomes golden brown.
  • Strain off the cedar leaves and skim the tea to remove the scum layer.

Warning: cedar contains Thujone, which can be toxic to the human body. It is recommended that a person drink no more than three cups of cedar tea per week. It should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding or with kidney weakness. 

Benefits: High is Vitamin C. The body requires vitamin C to efficiently use carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It binds and neutralizes the tissue-damaging effects of free radicals. It is an essential co-factor for the formation of collagen, the body’s major building protein, and is essential to the proper functioning of all internal organs.

20th Annual Pow Wow

February 27, 2020

We deeply regret to inform you Red River College’s 20th Annual Graduation Pow Wow that was to be held on May 8, 2020 will be postponed due to the recent recommendations made by public authorities to increase social distancing to reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

This event has been a point of pride for RRC for nearly 20 years and has been a tremendous way to honour, celebrate, and make Indigenous culture more accessible for the College community. Although we are saddened by this change, we are hopeful that we will be able to join together to celebrate our Indigenous students and the journey they are on in the near future.

We would like to acknowledge the time and efforts of our Elders, staff and community members who have been putting in great effort to plan this special day.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rhonda Monkman, Events Coordinator, at

Miigwetch (thank you) in advance for your understanding.

How the Blanket Exercise is Supporting Reconciliation

February 24, 2020

Red River College staff are taking advantage of a new opportunity to learn more about Canada’s history and Indigenous culture through the Blanket Exercise, which is named for the blankets participants walk on that represent North America.

During the exercise, participants role-play as Indigenous peoples as they are guided through a simulation of the colonization of Canada. It begins with what Indigenous worldviews are and what life and governance looked like before European contact. It takes you through the first treaties, laws and policies that were enacted, the Canadian Residential School System, the Sixties Scoop, all the way up to current issues.

The exercise is designed to not only share information and key events, but in a way that is safe, supportive and non-judgmental.

Elders are an essential part of the exercise as they start the day off in a good way, share Teachings, and contribute to creating a safe environment. Every offering of the Blanket Exercise will be a little different as the College has a number of facilitators and lead Indigenous facilitators, all of who will bring their own Teachings and different life experiences to the day, which is fitting as no Indigenous community is the same.

This training is just one of the ways that the College is working to embed the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, to support the healing journey between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and to create a stronger College community.

Angela Ferris, Assistant to the Executive Director, Community & Student Services, recently experienced the Blanket Exercise for the first time and is hoping that more staff take advantage of the workshop.

“There is a need for reconciliation. As Canadians, we need to know the history of what went on because a lot of it is swept under the rug. There is that stereotype of Friendly Canada, but we have our own skeletons in the closet. As RRC employees, I think it is incredibly important because we do have many Indigenous students coming through our doors. It’s important that we can understand their history and where they might be coming from.”

Growing up in Eastern Canada, Ferris didn’t encounter Indigenous people or relations except for when protests were on the news, which were difficult to understand. “It was never talked about. It wasn’t until I moved to Winnipeg that I was exposed to Indigenous people because I just never met any Indigenous people, or if I did, they didn’t identify as being indigenous so I didn’t know. Then I saw the relations and the tensions and it was shocking, but I didn’t really know what to do.”

Ferris was looking for ways she could educate herself, and fortunately when she attended the University of Winnipeg for her Bachelor of Education Degree, Indigenous studies was part of her education.

“It kind of just fell into place, and luckily it did. I remember thinking now that I’ve learned the history, I feel like I can be an ally and talk to other people about it and make them question their own view.”

As a non-Indigenous person, Ferris thinks this is the most important thing allies can do – question their own views and ask others to do the same.

“It’s so easy to grow up thinking one way, or have other people’s views internalized without even taking the time to question it. I would like more people to question what they thought they knew. Everyone has their own beliefs, right or wrong, but I think it’s good to always question it and never think that you are 100% correct. If more people could just question, I think that would be great.”

Although she had formal education on Indigenous history, she felt the Blanket Exercise made it feel much more real. “I could definitely visualize that feeling, that grief, that moment, a lot better than just reading it on paper.”

She said the whole day was very powerful and incredibly informative, but the moment that stuck out the most was the sharing circle where she felt everyone was very open to speaking and listening to one another. It was a great way to end the day. She also thinks that having the workshop in the Indigenous Support Centre provided a good energy and is a place everyone at RRC should experience. “You walk in and everyone is so welcoming.”

Although the day was emotional, she felt supported all the way through. “I felt I could have gone to any facilitator and they would have been there for me.”

“You can always learn something new and I think it’s worth taking the time because we are Canadians. It’s incredibly important and it’s worth making a priority.”

Click here to register. 

Find more information here.

Winter Indigenous Games 2020

February 11, 2020

February 24 – 28, 2020
Notre Dame Campus

Enjoy winter fun and a celebration of games and culture! Meet Indigenous staff and students. Open to all students and staff. Prizes for all those who participate. Bring your own cup for some complimentary hot chocolate!

Sign up sheets for events will be posted on door room F213.

Date Time Event Location
Feb 24
11:00 am Moose Call Tipi outside between Building F & North Gym
12:00 pm Moose Haul (Team of 3)
Feb 25
11:00 am Hair Braiding and Round Dance Drumming Prairie Lights
Feb 26
11:00 am – 1:00 pm Bannock Slapstick Hockey Tournament (Team of 5) North Gym
Feb 27
12:00 pm Best Bannock Indigenous Support Centre, F205
Feb 28
12:00 pm Snow Shoe Race Tipi outside between Building F & North Gym

For more information or to register your team, contact Donna at

Indigenous Education Grows and Gifts Ceremonial Tobacco

January 27, 2020

Last January, RRC Indigenous Wellness Advisor Donna Glover had an idea. She saw that the College had a traditional medicine garden, but they were not growing tobacco. Glover took it upon herself to change that.

Tobacco is one of the four sacred medicines in Indigenous culture and Glover felt that it was important for the College to create a relationship with the medicine themselves. “Anyone can go to the gas station and buy tobacco, but we wanted a special connection,” she says.

As a Wellness Advisor, Glover works with students as a mentor of Indigenous cultures and spirituality. She teaches skills such as teepee setup, beadwork, drum making, medicine picking and preparing, and uses land-based learning to teach. She supports the College’s Elders-in-Residence with teachings and ceremonies like sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies. She also provides extra circular activities and wellness opportunities for students like Indigenous horticultural club, mindful meditation, floor hockey, and more. In an Indigenous worldview, the mind, body, spirit and heart work together, and Glover hopes that these experiences provided at College will contribute to a sense of wholeness to complement students’ academic journey.

RRC is dedicated to embedding these Indigenous ways of learning and being to advance Indigenous achievement. When it comes to spiritual and cultural practices, they make sure that necessary elements (such as tobacco) are provided for students.

Summer Solstice Plant Giveaway

Glover says that she wanted a way for the college to be self-sufficient when it comes to tobacco. She knew that the College is committed to sustainability and thought that this project could help with that goal.

“When you have to take care of and respect the tobacco, you gain a new relationship [with it],” says Glover.

In April, Glover took over a small plot of land on Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus. She worked with RRC’s green space management instructors to plant tobacco seeds, and soon tobacco plants began to spring up. Over the summer, the Indigenous Support staff helped water and care for the plants. Glover says that she used no pesticides or fertilizer, only water and sunlight.

There were so many tobacco plants that they gave many away at the Summer Solstice to staff, students, and community members, to encourage others create that spiritual relationship and to think of tobacco in a more natural and obtainable way. They used the Solstice event as an opportunity to bless the plants and set an intention.

Glover presenting the tobacco at the Winter Solstice

She feels that growing tobacco has helped students to reconnect with the spiritual meaning of tobacco, rather than thinking of it just a product one can buy. “We as Indigenous [peoples] have our own reconciliation to do, why not start with tobacco,” she says.

It was a very special moment for Glover, who had spent almost a year on this initiative, when she was able to honour pipe carriers at the Winter Solstice Pipe Ceremony and Feast with homegrown tobacco for the first time.