Last Friday, RRC Polytech welcomed back its in-person Pow Wow to celebrate graduating Indigenous students, with a day-long event that included a traditional pipe ceremony, drumming, dancing, singing, feasting and an Indigenous makers market.
Approximately 170 Indigenous students registered for the event, the largest number in RRC Polytech’s Pow Wow history. The event was also live streamed.
For the past two years, the College’s Pow Wow has been held virtually, with students signing up to be recognized in a live stream filled with Indigenous performances and messages of congratulations. Including the two virtual celebrations, this year’s event marked the College’s 22nd Pow Wow.
“Nothing can replace celebrating our students in-person and creating these memories that help mark a special moment in their lives and where their cultures are celebrated,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech. “Indigenous success is vital to all areas of our College and is just one of the ways we will contribute to the ongoing process of reconciliation. We’re seeing Indigenous students register for this year’s Pow Wow from across all programs areas: health, business, trades, and many in between.”
“This past fall, we launched our new strategic plan: In Front of What’s Ahead. Of the plan’s three commitments, the second is to commit to Truth and Reconciliation and pursue equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. Our work will begin with listening.
“Just this year, we have welcomed a Knowledge Keepers Council to help advise on our strategic initiatives, and we’ve welcomed Jamie Wilson as our Vice-President of Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development, which will increase our capacity for partnerships with Indigenous students, businesses and communities, and help further embed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and training.”
This year’s Pow Wow welcomed hundreds of guests, community members, dancers, drummers, and College staff, faculty and Indigenous students from all programs to join in the community celebration, which was hosted by the School of Indigenous Education with guidance and leadership from the College’s Elders-in-Residence.
Students had the opportunity to participate in ceremony and be individually recognized while also receiving a gift. Performances included Métis jigging, the Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers and Inuit throat singer Zeann Manernaluk.