Indigenous Education

News and Events

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.

New mural aims to ignite spiritual connections for Indigenous students

January 21, 2020

A new mural at Red River College’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute aims to create an inviting space where Indigenous students can feel inspired, represented and connected to their history.

Indigenous achievement is one of the main pillars of the College’s strategic themes and goals, and is taken into an account during space planning at all campuses. Just this year, nearly two dozen suites were reserved for Indigenous students at PGI’s student residences in the Exchange District to help address housing issues faced by Indigenous students, especially those who’ve relocated to Winnipeg for their studies.

With more Indigenous students than ever living at PGI, it was important for the College to ensure visual representation. The building already features design motifs depicting the seven sacred teachings, and now an original mural designed by Juno Awardwinning artist Gwiiwizenz Dewe’igan — whose English name is David Dorian Boulanger — adorns the walls of a gathering room where students can study and socialize.

“Art saves lives,” says Boulanger. “I know because it saved my life and I have seen the profound impact it has on the Indigenous youth I have worked with.”

Flowing landscapes, a burnt orange sky, a coiling river, and stunning portraits in monotone blues cover every wall of the gathering room. The more time you spend in the space, the more images and words in different languages you’ll find.

“The walls are supposed to be touched. It’s supposed to feel like you’re in a cave studying,” says Boulanger. “Each wall has a meaning. When you’re interacting with it, you’re learning. There are Annishabemowin words in here, there are syllabics, there are buffalo on the prairies, there’s a Sundance tree, a golden eagle, the little people, water and fish.”
By using mediums such as plaster, water colours and paints, Boulanger was able to create textured finishes and carvings that make for an interactive mural, which students are more than welcome to touch and feel.

“I touched everything and made every mark with my own hands. It feels like it was etched into a cave or stone. You come in here, you rub your hand on the wall and you go back in time. I hope something is going to happen for students.”

Boulanger painted three portraits so that students will see themselves in the artwork. There’s a male warrior, a female (inspired by a photo of Elvis Presley’s Cherokee great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White) and Louis Riel, as an homage to Manitoba’s Métis history. Even Boulanger’s young daughters had a hand in painting the mural, an ongoing tradition he started so they can see their own gifts being shared.

The artist hopes the mural will be part of students’ personal journeys to reconciliation, and to finding connections to cultural pride and language revitalization.

“In being selected to create this mural, it was my honour to incorporate the language of these lands, with the help of my Aunt Annie, who has always expressed the importance of our language. My hope is that this space will inspire you to find yourself through your language, which will in turn help you, as it has helped me, experience my own narrative as an Anishinaabeg.”

“Our young people are going to rise up strong again. It’s going to be epic when that spirit comes back.”

2020 Aspiring Indigenous Student Enrolment Fair

January 7, 2020

Join us to learn about Red River College programs and financial award opportunities, meet staff and faculty, and start your applications.

• College Transition
• Culinary Skills
• Indigenous Language (Cree and Anishinaabemowin)
• Introduction to Trades
• Pathway to Business, Creative Communications and Digital Technology Programs
• Pathway to Engineering Technology Programs
• Pathway to Health Programs
• Social Innovation and Community Development

Please bring your SIN, high school transcripts and proof of Indigenous Ancestry to begin your application(s).

For more information, contact 204.632.2180 or

For a full list of program options, visit

Red River College launches a Truth and Reconciliation Award for Indigenous Students

December 10, 2019

Red River College’s School of Indigenous Education is pleased to announce the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award in partnership with the Red River College Campus Store to support Indigenous learners. This new award came together from RRC students, staff and faculty purchasing specially designed t-shirts at the Campus Store that bring awareness to Indigenous issues.

“This is really a grassroots initiative. Students, staff and faculty have created this new award from the ground up. We didn’t know what to expect, so this has been a really amazing surprise,” says Carla Kematch, Manager, Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement. “Because these funds were raised from products that raise awareness of Indigenous issues, we really want to gift the award to an Indigenous student who embraces the efforts of Truth and Reconciliation and has been effected by the intergenerational impacts of colonialism. We want to extend a hand and lift up those who need it most.”

During the College’s first Truth and Reconciliation Week, where various events were offered to engage staff and students in Truth and Reconciliation topics and Indigenous culture, the Campus Store sold two t-shirt designs: Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The funds raised were sufficient to create a new award with plans to continue for years to come.

Valued at $1,000, the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award aims to support full-time Indigenous students who have a stake in Truth and Reconciliation. Mínwastánikéwin is a Cree word that means ‘to set it right.’

Recipients will be selected based on an essay response: What Does Truth and Reconciliation Mean to You?

To be eligible, applicants are required to submit a General RRC Application, proof of Indigenous heritage, and a one-page essay submission. Deadline for application is January 15, 2019.

To learn more about the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award, visit

I Am Indigenous

December 3, 2019

We believe that what we’re doing is working when it comes to fostering an environment where our diversity is one of our greatest strengths, but we also believe we can and must do more to expand and enhance initiatives supporting our College community, as well as acknowledge and celebrate the unique differences that makes Red River Colleges so special.

Historically, Indigenous people faced barriers in the workplace and educational institutions. Declaring your Indigenous status — First Nations, Métis and Inuit — allows Red River College to maintain accurate information, supports the development of strategies, programming and practices, ensures under-represented groups are given the opportunity to participate equitably, and tells the College community you are proud to be Indigenous!

Here’s why some of your friends and peers are proud to declare their Indigenous identity:

I Am Métis

I am Métis and very proud of my strong Métis heritage, which guides my values. I believe strongly in my culture and the importance of working together for the success and empowerment of the next seven generations.

Tracy Brant
Pathway Liaison, School of Indigenous Education

I Am Algonquian, French Canadian and Polish

There was a time when I was afraid to say who I am when I was required to self-declare — now, with pride I check off the boxes for woman and Indigenous person. I have realized it does matter to represent who you are, as my roots and gender are who I am and are important.

Monica Morin
Indigenous Liaison, Indigenous Student Support and Community Relations

I Am Cree and Métis

It’s important to hold on to my Cree and Métis ancestral heritage — and to pass on the value of knowing where we come from and our history to our students — so we can move forward in a proud and meaningful manner.

I am an RRC alumnus and I want to show our students there is a path that can help them move forward in their academic journey and into a better life.

Marshall “Shash” Richard
Navigation Coach, Indigenous Student Support and Community Relations

I Am Anishinaabe, Inninew and Métis

I am a proud Anishinaabe, Inninew and Métis woman. I want people to know that I am proud of my heritage and that I play a significant role in creating training and employment opportunities for students. I also want to help demystify stereotypes. I am Indigenous, I am educated, and I am making a difference.

Rebecca Chartrand
Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy

I Am Ojbwe

Maria Morrison nindizhinikaaz. Mishkosiminiziibiing nindoonjibaa. I am a mixed-blood Ojbwe woman and a band member of Big Grassy River First Nation in Treaty #3. Some aspects of how I define myself have changed over time, like becoming a mother or RRC employee, but my Indigenous identity has been with me all along and is an evolving journey of discovery and learning. Being proud of the uniqueness of who you are is key to confidence and happiness in all that you do.

Maria Morrison
Director, Indigenous Student Support and Community Relations

I Am Cree

I am very proud of my Cree culture and history here in Manitoba.

Despite the many challenges I have encountered in establishing my connections to my culture, I believe that encouraging diversity at the College will help all of us appreciate our own culture and encourage others to go back to their roots to find out more about where they came from. To me, diversity provides different solutions to the same problem and a chance to explore each other’s unique perspectives.

Frank Parkes
Transition to Employment Manager, Indigenous Student Support and Community Relations

If you’d like to self-declare your diversity, contact Priyani Mediwake, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, or fill out a form in person at the Indigenous Support Centers (F205 NDC, P407 EDC).

Find out more about our Diversity Matters campaign ›


New Indigenous Social Innovation Program Supports Student’s Entrepreneurial and Spiritual Journey

November 28, 2019

When RRC student Sean Rayland decided to start his sober journey, he wanted to find clothing that supported his new path. Unable to find what he was looking for, Rayland started his own line of apparel featuring empowering messages of community, spirituality and sobriety.

Rayland started his clothing brand Red Rebel Armour a little over a year ago. Without much prior experience, he taught himself graphic design and learned how to screen print t-shirt designs by watching YouTube tutorials.

Rayland enrolled in the Social Innovation and Community Development program at Red River College, which has allowed him to build his brand and business further while obtaining the support of his culture. He says that before coming to Red River College, he was vaguely aware of the Indigenous Student Supports offered, but was unaware of the full breadth that is available. Spending time with the Indigenous Supports has allowed Rayland to stay connected with his culture and spirituality during his schooling, which has been instrumental in his path to recovery.

The Social Innovation and Community Development is a new two-year program that explores community engagement, sustainable development, empowerment, inclusiveness, environmental stewardship, reconciliation and social activism. With a focus on self-reflection and embedded with Indigenous teaching, ceremony and ways of knowing, the program teaches students about themselves, their potential, and their community.

Rayland says that his favourite thing about the program is the strong sense of community that has been built up. He says that RRC is an excellent environment of culture and a safe haven for sobriety. “So far, it’s beautiful. It’s awesome.”

Rayland has made sure that all of the clothing comes from producers that are sustainable for the environment. He says that it’s essential to him to treat the environment with care and respect, and that he wants to do his part. He says, “I care about my earth, and I care about humanity.”

The various designs on the clothing of Red Rebel Armour have Indigenous words and phrases on them. He says, “You can’t have [Indigenous] language without culture, and you can’t have culture without language.”

Rayland says that it’s important for him to incorporate messages of strength and spirituality in his clothing because, “it’s the way I think and the way I live. I want my clothes to reflect that.”

Rayland says that if he could send one message to those struggling out there, he would tell them that, “every day you wake up, you have a chance to be reborn.” He hopes that his clothing and inspiring messages will help those who are in situations similar to where he was.

Rayland currently runs Red Rebel Armour as a full-time job, but with the help of the Social Innovation program, he plans to expand the scope of his business, adding new designs and eventually adding more kinds of products. He hopes that his messages of hope will reach those who need them and inspire others to support those in need.

He would strongly encourage anyone thinking about enrolling in the Social Innovation program to join. He said that with the support and education they provided, he will be able to continue building his brand in the best way possible.

To learn more about the Social Innovation and Community Development program visit

2019 Winter Solstice Pipe Ceremony and Feast

November 27, 2019

Indigenous Student Support and Community Relations invites you to a traditional pipe ceremony and feast in recognition of the Winter Solstice.

Gatherings for the Winter Solstice bring comfort, warmth, and people together to share stories, laughter and of course, food. In Indigenous culture, winter represents an ancestral spirit, so reflecting on the past by sharing stories and thanking our ancestors is an important part of honouring where we’re from, especially as we plan for the cold months ahead.

If you’re wondering what the Pipe Ceremony is all about, Elder-in-Residence Paul Guimond says, “it was always the pipe that brought people together. The pipe’s stone represents strength, and that stone has been here for a long time, so it has a lot of stories. The wood that’s attached to that pipe represents the connection to the spirit that connects to the creator. So if you put those two together and put our first medicine in the pipe, which is tobacco, then that smoke takes the message to the creator.”

The Winter Solstice celebrations offer RRC students and staff an opportunity to learn more about and participate in the Indigenous ceremonies that take place at the college, visit the Support Centres, and meet staff.

Notre Dame Campus
F205, Indigenous Support Centre
Tuesday, Dec 10
10:30 am – Pipe Ceremony
12:00 pm – Feast

Exchange District Campus
P407, Indigenous Support Centre
Thursday, Dec 12
10:30 am – Pipe Ceremony
12:00 pm – Feast

For more information, contact Sue Thiebaut at 204-632-2106 or

We invite all pipe carriers to take part in the pipe ceremony. Pipe carriers to contact Donna Glover at 204-632-2333 or

Birch Bark Basket Making

November 8, 2019

Due to the warm weather affecting supplies, please be advised of new dates for these workshops.

RRC students are invited to create birch bark baskets in a two part series at both the Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses. All skill levels welcome. Light lunch provided.

F205, Notre Dame Campus
Indigenous Support Centre
Part 1: Tuesday, Nov. 26 | 11am – 1pm
Part 2: Tuesday, Dec. 3 | 11am – 1pm

P407, Exchange District Campus
Indigenous Support Centre
Part 1: Friday, Nov. 29 | 11am – 1pm
Part 2: Friday, Dec. 6 | 11am – 1pm

For more information, contact Sue Thiebaut at or 204-632-2106.

Truth and Reconciliation: Call for Indigenous staff to be Blanket Exercise Lead Facilitators

October 29, 2019

Red River College is pleased to announce a Truth and Reconciliation initiative to provide employees with deeper training and education on Indigenous decolonization and reconciliation through the Kairos Blanket Exercise.

This past spring, 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous RRC staff and faculty were trained as facilitators to assist the College in reaching their goal of having 500 RRC staff experience the Kairos Blanket Exercise. For the next phase, we are looking for Indigenous Staff and Faculty to be trained as lead facilitators for this exercise.

The Blanket Exercise requires multiple facilitators, ideally a minimum of 4 for each delivery: 1 Indigenous lead facilitator, an additional 2 – 3 helpers, and an Elder/Knowledge Keeper. Therefore, we require 20 Indigenous lead facilitators. Faculty and staff will be selected across a range of departments to become facilitators. This number is critical to maximize the flexibility and available resources to deliver the exercise at the intended scale, while also building our own internal capacity and skills.

RRC is joining a wide-reaching movement of people and post-secondary institutes across Canada who are stepping up to commit to the truth and healing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Our commitment comes directly from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as well as the “Blueprint” commitment signed by RRC and other Manitoba post-secondary institutions in 2016. It is also part of the commitments in our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan and Academic and Research Plan.

The goal of this commitment is to strengthen our skills in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism to benefit our students, our fellow staff, and our communities. It also aims to educate staff and students on Canada’s true history and accurately reflect the diversity and distinctness of Indigenous people and the impacts of Canada’s historical knowledge that can sometimes perpetuate and fuel ignorance, discrimination and racism.

The School for Indigenous Education (SIE) and the Centre for Learning and Program Excellence are collaborating to lead this initiative with Carla Kematch, the College’s first-ever Manager, Truth & Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

To ensure RRC staff and faculty understand the current, deep-rooted systemic issues of Canada’s Indigenous issues, the exercise has been customized to incorporate local history and experiences as well as a clan bartering simulation experience that builds on local Anishinaabe history, governance and economic bartering systems.

The Blanket Exercise is a role-playing exercise and can be emotional and impactful for some participants. For this reason, participants will be supported in trauma-informed care principles with Indigenous Cultural supports. For more information on the workshop and how we plan to deliver it to employees (which may be different from your previous experience), see the attached FAQ document to this email.

What is Being Requested of You?

It is important lead facilitators represent a wide range of academic and non-academic areas at the College, and that they have an interest in delivering training that supports Truth and Reconciliation.

Please consider putting forth your name, as a candidate to become a lead Indigenous facilitator. The training will take 2 days to complete on November 12th and 13th.

As a facilitator, you will be required to lead 2 -3 exercises per year with approximately 40 RRC staff and faculty participating per session. Each 1 day session will have co-facilitators to assist you, along with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper.

Costs for the facilitator training will be funded centrally; no funding will be required from your department area.

Click here for The Blanket Exercise FAQ – RRC Employees.

Carla Kematch will be the contact person if you are interested in this opportunity to become a Lead Indigenous Facilitator. Please do not hesitate to contact her with questions you may have.

Carla Kematch | Manager, Truth & Reconciliation and Community Engagement
204-632-2148 |

Indigenous Education Pathway to Engineering Technology Programs Information Session

October 22, 2019

Curious about a career in Engineering Technology? Prospective Indigenous applicants are invited to a Pathway to Engineering Technology Programs Information Session. Meet instructors, current and former students, understand the opportunities the Pathway Program model offers, and learn more about Engineering Technology programs at RRC. Light snack and refreshments will be provided.

Indigenous Education Pathway to Engineering Technology Programs Information Session
November 21 – 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Indigenous Support Centre, F209
Notre Dame Campus

For additional information, please email or call 204.632.2483.