PLEASE NOTE: This weekly message contains details some readers may find distressing. We must allow space for grief and pay attention to our mental health. Staff and students can visit rrc.ca/wellness to access supports.

Next week, our campus community will join celebrations from coast to coast to coast in honour of National Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Summer Solstice – on Tuesday, June 21. The day prior, we will participate in our RBC Reaction by Collision event at Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, with our School of Indigenous Education (SIE) as host.

These events are excellent opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to interact, to learn, and to celebrate; I encourage you all to take part. Here is some additional information.

During the past few months, with the return of in-person campus events, I’ve had the privilege to participate in our Graduation Pow Wow and the opening of the Roundhouse Auditorium in Manitou a bi Bii daziigae.

With each experience, I’ve found myself humbled by the beautiful symmetry they create between knowledge, tradition, healing, celebration and a sense of community.   

When I consider our commitments for RRC Polytech and, by extension, for Manitoba, I see community as essential to our success, and I am reminded how much we must continue to learn in this regard from Indigenous peoples.

I am also reminded of the responsibility of non-Indigenous people when it comes to the reciprocity of community.

As we celebrate on June 20 and 21, we do so with the knowledge that the harrowing work of identifying mass burial sites of children who attended Residential Schools – including at several of the 18 schools that once operated in Manitoba – and never made it home, continues in earnest.

Earlier this week, the Province of Manitoba allocated money to support the discovery and commemoration of these young lives that were stolen. Of the announcement, Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., said, “It is time to right the wrongs. It is time for our people to author the narrative of our history.” 

I also acknowledge that in recent weeks, we’ve seen a rash of murders of Indigenous women in Winnipeg.

My heart goes out to the families and friends who are processing an unthinkable grief and I offer my condolences to them. I also reaffirm our commitment at RRC Polytech to embed truth and reconciliation, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion into everything we do.

We must continue to foster a community where everyone feels confident and supported, and finds opportunities to teach and learn, to heal and to lead. These are the values and experiences we want our graduates to take into the workplace and into the world; this is how we can help make Manitoba a welcoming, inclusive place for all.