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Indigenous Education

Red River College Welcomes New Elder-in-Residence Una Swan

January 18, 2021

Red River College is honoured to welcome Elder Una Swan as an RRC Elder-in-Residence, joining Elder Jules Lavallee and Elder Paul Guimond in supporting students, classrooms, staff and College leadership.

Una Swan is a band member of Fisher River Cree Nation. She is 53-years-old and has three boys and one grandson. She says she is very close to her culture, both from a physical and spiritual aspect. She has worked at various grassroots organizations over the past 20 years as Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Liaison and as an Elder. She is a teaching and healing Elder. She has found this work to be giving, receiving and extremely rewarding. Of her various places of employment, she says one of her more memorable places was St. Amant Centre. Working there gave her a new perspective on her own life and the lives of others.

“It has not always been easy and I have had my struggles, but always felt comforted knowing that anything worth doing is not always easy, otherwise it would have been done already,” she says. “I have been able to keep my eye on how things are going to be here in ten years from now instead of right now! I know that Creator has been with me on this job as I have been able to do things I could not, know things I should not, and have this overwhelming feeling of energy to work. I have been challenged emotionally, mentally, and physically to do this work, but with Creator’s hand on me here I have been able to overcome these challenges with ease.”

Ensuring access to and including Elders and Knowledge Keepers is vital to embedding and supporting Indigenous ways of knowing being, teaching, learning and leading. Elders have always held positions of high esteem and importance; they are the living libraries that hold the wisdom, history and cultural knowledge of our Nations. Our Elders-in-Residence play an important role in leadership, student and staff health, wellness, and cultural and spiritual development.

Students and staff are invited to join a Meet and Greet with Elder Una on Wednesday, January 27 at 2 pm on Microsoft Teams. Contact Stephanie Wright, Indigenous Centre Coordinator, at sdwright@rrc.ca to join.

As her first virtual workshop with the College community, Elder Una will guide viewers in a two-part beading workshop to create a beaded watch covering. The workshop will be available at rrc.ca/indigenous/news this month and on the Indigenous Education Instagram page @RRCIndigenous

Along with cultural teachings and classroom support, the College community will also see Una participate in a number of virtual events this term.