Indigenous Education

College opens Truth and Reconciliation Week with signing of Indigenous Education Protocol

September 26, 2022

Truth and Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to reflect and honour the victims and survivors of Canada’s Residential School system, ensuring they are never forgotten.

To begin Truth and Reconciliation Week, Red River College Polytechnic today joined the members of Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) as a signatory of a national Indigenous Education Protocol.

This comprehensive document underscores the importance of structures and approaches required to address Indigenous peoples’ learning needs and to support self-determination and socio-economic development of Indigenous communities.

“We have dedicated ourselves to reconciling a broken trust in our education system and recognize that advancing Indigenous achievement requires organizations to listen, embrace new ways of learning and work together to prompt meaningful change,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech.

“By upholding this agreement, RRC Polytech and its CICan partners will continue to create opportunities to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into student and faculty supports, to inform our administrative processes, and to build collaborative partnerships that elevate reconciliation.”

Indigenous Education Protocol signatory institutions agree to:

  • Commit to making Indigenous education a priority.
  • Ensure governance structures recognize and respect Indigenous peoples.
  • Implement intellectual and cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples through curriculum and learning approaches relevant to learners and communities.
  • Support students and employees to increase understanding and reciprocity among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
  • Commit to increasing the number of Indigenous employees with ongoing appointments throughout the institution, including Indigenous senior administrators.
  • Establish Indigenous-centred holistic services and learning environments for learner success.
  • Build relationships and be accountable to Indigenous communities in support of self-determination through education, training and applied research.

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RRC Polytech launches new Orange Shirt Day design by local artist Peatr Thomas

June 21, 2022

Local artist Peatr Thomas, seated near one of his outdoor muralsRRC Polytech is proud to have worked with local artist Peatr Thomas on an original design for Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, in support of the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award, created in partnership between the College’s School of Indigenous Education and its Campus Store.

Thomas is an Ininew and Anishinaabe self-taught, full-time multi-disciplinary artist from the Pimicikamak and Miskooseepi territories. A youth facilitator for many years, he is sharing passed-down knowledge, traditional teachings, culture and the healing process by creating visual forms of art.

“Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters and truth and reconciliation have become such a large part of the College community, and we can see how it has been embraced through the engagement and attendance of our events and workshops, but also through the funds we have raised for the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award and the Indigenous students we’ve been able to support so far,” says Carla Kematch, Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

Part of the values of truth and reconciliation is embedding Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and I’m so honoured that Peatr agreed to work with us to create an authentic piece of artwork that staff and students can feel proud to wear that is true to the meaning behind Every Child Matters.

“Peatr is an established artist in our community with a distinct vision — many will recognize his incredible murals throughout the city, and we are so grateful to him for sharing his art and teachings with us. I can’t wait to see this path for us grow and to create more opportunities.”

All proceeds from Orange Shirt Day sales, as well as those from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit designs, go towards the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award. The word Mínwastánikéwin is Cree and means ‘to set it right.’ This award seeks to advance Indigenous student achievement and since 2019 has distributed $1,000 awards each year via the College’s annual Truth and Reconciliation Week held at the end of September.

Peatr Thomas' new Orange Shirt Day designWhile consulting on the shirt’s design, Thomas met with RRC Polytech Elder-in-Residence Paul Guimond and an Orange Shirt Day committee to share what was important to convey, and to explore what the College seeks to achieve through its strategic direction: supporting Indigenous student success through supports, programs and initiatives like the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation training, the Blanket exercise, Truth and Reconciliation Week, and more.

Thomas says his design represents courage. “Courage to move forward. Courage to speak the truth. Courage to make changes for the better. The youth today will have a better chance at a great future with the protection of the Bear Clan, guidance of our ancestors, and having the room for growth. Remember and pay tribute to the young ones lost. Remember to honour the survivors.”

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College launches new IT program for Indigenous students as part of RBC Foundation gift

June 20, 2022

Today, Indigenous learners interested in pursuing a career in Manitoba’s information technology (IT) sector will have access to a new program offered at RRC Polytech, thanks to a $450,000 gift from RBC.

This most recent gift — alongside funding for other programs and platforms that connect diverse students to their ideas, potential, and one another — makes for a million-dollar friendship.

“When community partners like RBC connect with RRC Polytech to create globally needed programs, we’re ready to answer the call,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“This new pathway program is designed to equip Indigenous Manitobans with the skills and support required to transition into selected programs at RRC Polytech. With the move to remote and hybrid work and heavy reliance on technology, the world of IT operations is growing every day, and RRC Polytech’s students are in high demand.”

RBC has been a longstanding partner of RRC Polytech, and today, both organizations are celebrating over $1M in support. These gifts have provided mentorship and internship opportunities for students through such initiatives as Ten Thousand Coffees and Riipen, and sponsorship for the annual Directions Conference. They have also made possible a series of Reaction by Collision events, the latest of which served as host to today’s announcement about the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs offering.

“We at RBC are delighted to support the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs with this gift,” said Kim Ulmer, RBC’s Regional President. “Representation in industry, access to education, and tapping into the incredible talents of Indigenous people matters to all of us. We are so proud to further deepen our longtime friendship with RRC Polytech, while helping give space to new and innovative ideas in areas of information technology.”      Read More →

RRC Polytech adopts 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym and raises Progress Pride flag

June 15, 2022

RRC Polytech has committed to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into all work done at the College and is always looking for ways to advance meaningful change.

Moving forward, the College will use the acronym 2SLGTBQIA+ to respectfully acknowledge members of the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify community.

The College is placing Two Spirit People at the beginning of this evolving acronym, out of respect for their longevity, and their importance and status in Indigenous beliefs and traditions, after consultation and collaboration with our Elders in Residence and Knowledge Keepers Council.

“I’ve always advocated to recognize Two Spirit first because if we are going to talk about truth and reconciliation within Canada and recognize and acknowledge Indigenous people, including Two Spirit people, we should put them at the beginning. I’ve never understood why we are at the end,” says Barbara Bruce, O.M., All My Relations Inc., and RRC Polytech Knowledge Keepers Council.

“Placing the 2S at the beginning of the acronym is recognizing the original peoples of Canada — First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit Two Spirit people — and it’s acknowledging who those people are. I think everybody should embrace this stance.” Read More →

RRC Polytech hosts in-person Pow Wow for graduating Indigenous students

May 9, 2022

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.” Read More →

RRC Polytech unveils artwork by KC Adams at opening of Roundhouse Auditorium

April 29, 2022

Today, RRC Polytech unveiled Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams’ Morning Star design — which is embedded within the floor of the College’s new Roundhouse Auditorium — at the official opening of the space at Manitou a bi Bii daziigae.

“KC Adams really captured what our College and this building represent,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. “Not only did she so thoughtfully include distinct histories and cultures that are part of these lands, but she also integrated what type of learning will happen here. It pays homage to history, but it’s here in the present and looks to the future.”

Located on the second floor of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, RRC Polytech’s newest building at the Exchange District Campus, the Roundhouse Auditorium is a 210-seat space that will be used for events, ceremonies and collaborative learning. It is sound-proof, ventilated for the use of traditional medicines, and features a curved, panoramic projector to display videos and create an immersive experience.

“This space brings together so many aspects of RRC Polytech’s guiding principles: transforming to meet emerging needs, committing to reconciliation and diversity, and deepening our partnerships to maximize prosperity,” says Meier.

“The uniqueness of the Roundhouse will create more opportunities to gather, innovate, collaborate and invite the wider community in. It’s spaces like this that set RRC Polytech apart and show we can be really proud of how our College continues to contribute to the changing landscape of the Exchange District, Winnipeg and Manitoba.” Read More →

Morning Star installation grounds Manitou a bi Bii daziigae in Indigenous traditions

March 30, 2022

A stunning work of art embedded in the floor of the Roundhouse Auditorium at RRC Polytech’s new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae space honours Indigenous artistry and technology while highlighting its importance to our past, present and future.

Designed by prominent Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams, Morning Star incorporates traditional and emerging technologies in a space designed to bring people from a wide range of backgrounds together to learn and innovate. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is home to RRC Polytech’s flagship business, information and technology programs.

Morning Star celebrates traditional Indigenous technologies such as birch bark, which Adams featured prominently in the design.

“Embracing technology is a part of who Indigenous people are and have always been,” she explains.

“Birch bark was used as a versatile technology for many tribal groups across North America for knowledge sharing, vessels, shelter, transportation, design, fuel and even sunglasses to prevent snow-blindness.”

Adams, who is based in Winnipeg, sourced the bark herself, then scanned and digitally altered it to fit the larger design. The bark is arranged in a pattern that represents new beginnings —  “the first star you see in the morning, the star that guides us.” Read More →

Research enterprise re-aligning to support Manitoba businesses on a global stage

March 24, 2022

For more than 15 years, RRC Polytech’s Research Partnerships & Innovation enterprise has collaborated with local industry and community partners to find solutions to real-world challenges.

Over the course of the last five months, work has been underway on a new Academic Plan and Research Plan, focused on alignment with the key commitments of the College’s Strategic Plan, In Front of What’s Ahead.

Both plans will support how RRC Polytech lives its bold new direction over the next five years, and will play a significant role in how the College achieves a renewed commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, supports growth and prosperity within Manitoba and deepens relationships with employers, industry and community partners.

“This change in structure was a natural fit, as several goals in the Research Plan align extremely well with the mandate of RRC Polytech’s newly created Indigenous Strategy and Business Development portfolio,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO. 

“This re-alignment is one of the ways we are positioning RRC Polytech to achieve our strategic goals and elevate our role in strengthening Manitoba’s economic, social, environmental and cultural prosperity.”

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RRC Polytech welcomes Knowledge Keepers Council to further Truth and Reconciliation commitments

January 13, 2022

Red River College Polytechnic is proud to welcome its first Knowledge Keepers Council.

Allen Sutherland, Barbara Bruce, Albert McLeod and Martha Peet will join Elders-in-Residence Paul Guimond and Una Swan to provide guidance and diverse Indigenous perspectives throughout RRC Polytech’s work to embed truth and reconciliation.

Earlier this fall, RRC Polytech released its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, In Front of What’s Ahead. The second of the plan’s three commitments is to commit to Truth and Reconciliation by pursuing equity, diversity and inclusion in everything the College does.

“Our needs for consultation and engagement are expanding as we work towards advancing truth and reconciliation and embedding Indigenous perspectives across RRC Polytech. This is a vital piece of ensuring we are on the right track, that we are being intentional,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“We are so fortunate to have such esteemed and respected Elders and Knowledge Keepers joining together to support strategic planning and execution across our organization, which will impact all areas, from academic programs and culturally appropriate supports to applied research, fostering relationships with Indigenous communities and businesses, and being a prominent workplace in Manitoba. I look forward to seeing this group strengthen the efforts outlined in our new Strategic Plan.”

The new Council will advise senior leadership on strategic initiatives as the College responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. The formation of the Council also aligns with the Commission’s principal number seven to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, which states the perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.

“One of the most beautiful things about Indigenous cultures is that they are so diverse and there is an understanding of value and respect, despite different customs, traditions and languages,” says Carla Kematch, Director, Truth and Reconciliation at RRC Polytech.

“Within this Knowledge Keepers Council, we have individuals who are proud Cree, Inuit, Métis, Dakota, Oji-Cree, Ojibway and Two Spirit. It’s very inclusive, and each brings a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, teachings and experiences. We need to hear these voices as we move forward and make decisions. Read More →

Change is our business: RRC Polytech incorporates Indigenous content, teachings into commerce and management courses

January 10, 2022

Instructors and staff from Red River College Polytechnic’s Applied Commerce and Management Education (ACME) programs are responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action by Indigenizing their courses.

That means more students preparing for careers in fields such as accounting, finance, marketing and human resources will learn Indigenous teachings and perspectives on key elements of their curriculum.

So far, 13 per cent of ACME courses feature Indigenous content — an impressive number, given the initiative started at zero in 2019 during the onset of COVID-19 and a massive, College-wide conversion to online learning.

ACME instructor Taras Wasyliw says a group of faculty members were inspired by Carla Kematch, RRC Polytech’s Director of Truth and Reconciliation, during a presentation about what sort of Indigenous content they should incorporate in courses they were in the process of redeveloping.

“We all came from different backgrounds and levels of understanding, but we all shared a sense that this was one way to begin righting the wrongs of our business community,” says Wasyliw. “The history of colonization is business history — it’s about exploiting resources for profit.”

Manitoba’s Indigenous population is growing fast — as is the province’s Indigenous workforce.

“Understanding the history of our relationship — correcting it where possible, and making amends — helps us all,” says Wasyliw, while pointing out socially responsible businesses tend to be more profitable.

“So even on a bottom-line level, bringing Indigenous content and teachings into our curriculum is the right thing to do.”

Along with other post-secondary institutions in the province, RRC Polytech is a signatory to the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint. This fall, the College strengthened its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation by dedicating one of the three commitments of its new strategic plan to embedding the TRC’s Calls to Action across all programs and operations.

Kematch says ACME’s initiative aligns with Call to Action 62, which focuses on education for reconciliation and calls upon governments to consult with Indigenous peoples, educators and Survivors to help post-secondary instructors integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms. Read More →