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Indigenous Education

News and Events

News Coming Soon

April 6, 2020

We’re sorry, but you may have just received an email about a protected post. We are just getting things ready behind the scenes to announce the first Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award recipient.

We can’t wait to share with you! Stay tuned.


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 rmonkman90@rrc.ca

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 dglover@rrc.ca

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 indigrecruit@rrc.ca.

For a full list of program options, visit rrc.ca/indigenous

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 rrc.ca/awards

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 ›