RRC Polytech hosts its 23rd annual Pow Wow today to celebrate Indigenous students and graduates, while also honouring the Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S), or Red Dress Day.
Each year, RRC Polytech’s Pow Wow welcomes hundreds of guests, community members, dancers, drummers, staff, faculty and Indigenous graduates from all programs to join in the celebration, hosted by the School of Indigenous Education with guidance and leadership from the College’s Elders-in-Residence.
This year, campus flags will be lowered to half-mast and the day will be recognized with a Memorial Song dedicated to MMIWG2S, their families and those impacted by the loss of loved ones.
“Creating space to celebrate Indigenous achievement is essential action for reconciliation and is the responsibility of all of us that call North America — Turtle Island — home,” says Isabel Bright, Dean of the School of Indigenous Education.
“While we celebrate the achievements of all Indigenous students, it’s important to recognize that the date of our Pow Wow coincides with the Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People. Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people deserve respect and safety.”
Earlier this year, College leaders were invited into Indigenous communities to hear directly from members about the barriers that Indigenous learners face when considering post-secondary education. Some individuals expressed fear for the safety of their daughters or granddaughters when they leave their communities to come to Winnipeg or other urban centres, and worried whether they would make it home.
“Not only should we ensure all students are getting the highest quality education we can offer, but they should feel safe while doing so — this should never be a barrier to access,” says Fred Meier, RRC President and CEO.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous communities to ensure we are taking meaningful steps to address the calls for justice in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and to ensure that all women, girls and Two-Spirit people are supported and safe in their educational journey.”
Today’s Pow Wow will begin with a pipe ceremony, followed by the grand entry at noon, the memorial to MMIWG2S, and the honouring of Indigenous graduates.
Performances include Métis jigging and square-dancing group the Asham Stompers, Inuit throat singers Zeann Manernaluk and Aleatra Sammurtok, and local drum groups, dancers and vendors.