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.”
“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.