First cohort of Hollow Water First Nation grads complete Educational Assistant program

June 3, 2024

Last month, the first cohort of students in Hollow Water (Waanibiigaaw) First Nation’s Educational Assistant program gathered alongside their instructor and family members to celebrate their graduation with a ceremony and feast.

The community-centred celebration allowed the grads to share their accomplishments with loved ones and community members. They were gifted materials from their community to create their own ribbon skirts to wear to the ceremony.

Instructor Patricia Stouffer says it was important to the grads to take part in a ceremony, not just for themselves but so young people could see the accomplishments possible for them in their community.

Hollow Water First Nation is a tightknit, welcoming community located on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, over 200 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Stouffer says her students’ ability to remain close to home while studying was crucial to their success in the program.

“One of the biggest things is having support from home and not experiencing culture shock,” she explains. “It’s hard enough to transition into education, and having this opportunity right in the community opened doors for the students who were a part of this program.

“Being in their community allowed them to keep their values and connection to family alive and well throughout their education and get the support that only being close to home can provide.”

Chloe Seymour is one of the eight graduating students and is already working right in her community at Wanipigow School. She says it felt nice to be recognized at the ceremony and for her community members to see how hard she’d worked — echoing Stouffer’s sentiment that close proximity to educational opportunities is crucial.

Seymour held two part-time jobs while in the program — jobs she would’ve had to give up if she’d been required to travel to another part of the province to complete the program. It was also important to her that she could set an example for kids in Hollow Water.

“I’m glad I got to show the youth in my community that they don’t have to leave their home to continue their education, and that they can be successful, just like I was,” she says.

Making programs and other resources available to students in Hollow Water is one way that RRC Polytech addresses the needs of the communities it serves, while also delivering on its commitments to Truth and Reconciliation.

The Educational Assistant program is also a step towards ensuring equitable opportunities exist for students throughout Manitoba, particular those who would have otherwise barriers accessing educations outside of their community.

By providing communities with access to post-secondary options, the College aims to close gaps in the province’s educational system and create a more equitable environment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

Learn more ›