Red River College helped make history last week, joining with every post-secondary institution in Manitoba — as well as the Manitoba School Boards Association — in signing the Indigenous Education Blueprint, an unprecedented commitment to advance Indigenous education in the province.
The transformational framework is the result of a new partnership between Manitoba's public school boards and the post-secondary education sector, now united in their efforts to enhance Indigenous education and reconciliation, and to make Manitoba a global centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture.
The Blueprint takes action on recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and will translate into success for Indigenous students and their families, thereby enriching the lives of all Manitobans.
"Indigenous youth are one of the fastest growing populations in Canada," said RRC President Paul Vogt. "They are our future — our future leaders, entrepreneurs and builders — and the next generation of our country. As colleges, we have a responsibility to work with other partners to continue to build upon our diverse range of post-secondary programs that support Indigenous learners on their educational journey."
Next steps include such action items as establishing a steering committee with all signatories, creating a collaborative website and social media platform, and hosting a conference on Indigenous education.
The partners who met Friday to sign the historic Blueprint include RRC, the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Université de Saint-Boniface, Canadian Mennonite University, University College of the North, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Assiniboine Community College and the Manitoba School Boards Association.
By signing the Blueprint— formally, the "Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint for Universities, Colleges and Public School Boards: Making Excellence in Indigenous Education a Priority" — the signatories commit to:
- Engaging with Indigenous peoples in respectful and reciprocal relationships to realize the right to self-determination, and to advance reconciliation, language and culture through education, research and skill development
- Bringing Indigenous knowledge, languages and intellectual traditions, models and approaches into curriculum and pedagogy
- Promoting research and learning that reflects the history and contemporary context of the live sod Indigenous peoples
- Increasing access to services, programs and supports to Indigenous students, to ensure learning environments foster learner success
- Collaborating to increase student mobility to better serve the needs of Indigenous students
- Building school and campus communities that are free of racism, value diversity and foster cultural safety
- Increasing and measuring Indigenous school and post-secondary participation and success rates
- Showcasing the successes of Indigenous students and educators
- Reflecting the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures in Manitoba through institutional governance and staffing policies and practices
- Engaging governments and the private and public sectors to increase labour market opportunities for Indigenous graduates
The collaborative endeavour will continue to grow as more stakeholders and community groups are asked to join the education partnership.