A well-respected member of Manitoba’s Indigenous community — and a longtime support to Red River College students — was honoured this weekend by the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
On Saturday evening in Birds Hill Park, Elder Mae Louise Campbell took to the Folk Fest main stage to accept the Glass Banjo Award, which recognizes those who’ve made extraordinary contributions to the festival, now in its 45th year.
An Ojibwe-Metis Elder who’s served as one of RRC’s Elders in Residence for the last 13 years, Campbell is known for helping people incorporate ancestral Indigenous knowledge into various aspects of their lives, and for the warm and generous spirit she employs while offering help, healing and growth.
She was one of the first Indigenous artisans in the Folk Fest’s Handmade Village, and helped build early connections between the festival and other Indigenous artists. Each year, she greets artists and audiences alike at the festival’s welcoming ceremony and opening blessing — and says one of her most memorable Folk Fest moments was when seven eagles flew overheard while she was performing those duties in 2016.
In recent years, Campbell has served on the City of Winnipeg’s Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, and received a 2016 Indspire Award for her contributions to Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.
(Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Today, as part of its first Indigenous Education Open House, Red River College has announced it will provide financial support for up to 85 students enrolled in one of five new academic programs being launched this fall.
Offered in partnership with Indspire, a leading national Indigenous charity, RRC’s new School of Indigenous Education Award will cover the full cost of tuition, books and supplies for students enrolled in one of the following new academic programs:
“Red River College is working to create a seamless flow of wrap-around supports for aspiring Indigenous students, to help increase enrolment and graduation rates across the College,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy. “These bursaries will help remove the existing financial barriers that many of our learners face.
“We are proud to partner with Indspire, (a group that) recognizes the important work we are doing as a College and has made an investment in a bright future for Indigenous students in our community.”
Supporting Indigenous student success is one of the key pillars of RRC’s five-year strategic plan. Through this initiative, the College will continue increasing access to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners in Manitoba.
“This partnership is another step in the direction of transforming education for our youth so they can in turn transform their families, communities and Canada,” says Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire. “We are grateful for the support of Red River College and for the work they are doing to advance Indigenous achievement and education.”
Indigenous students who’d like to learn more about available programs and supports are invited to attend the Indigenous Education Open House, which runs from 1–7pm today (May 31), at the Notre Dame Campus.
Staff and students at Red River College will be joined by hundreds of community members, distinguished guests, dancers and drummers tomorrow, at the annual Graduation Pow Wow celebrating the success of our Indigenous learners.
Hosted by RRC’s School of Indigenous Education, this year’s event honours more than 60 graduates from a range of College programs. It gets underway at 10am with a pipe ceremony in Room F20 (Notre Dame Campus), followed by the grand entry in the North Gym at noon, the ceremony honouring grads at 1pm, and a traditional feast at 5pm.
In addition to celebrating student success, the pow wow festivities reflect the College’s continued commitment to making education more accessible for Indigenous learners.
The College aspires to deliver excellence in Indigenous achievement through partnerships and networks, and by incorporating Indigenous knowledge, philosophies, perspectives and content into innovative and relevant programming.
“Supporting Indigenous student success by enhancing the College environment is our number one priority at Red River College, and as we continue to develop and provide more relevant programming for our Indigenous students, this annual event will continue to grow and expand,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.
“We look forward to continuing a lifelong relationship with each of our students and graduates.
Red River College has announced new and enhanced programs — and more supports for Indigenous learners than ever before — as part of its strategic plan to grow its student population and chart a bold, new path forward for Indigenous Education.
“Red River College is proud to be a key signatory to the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, and we are fully committed to providing the student-centred and culturally relevant supports necessary to help aspiring students successfully transition from community to classroom to career,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.
“Over the last year, we have been working to create better access to programs, new training opportunities, and more pathways to post-secondary education for our Indigenous learners. We have taken important steps forward as a College community to grow and provide our students with the wrap-around supports and services they need to succeed.”
This fall, the College will launch five new programs for Indigenous learners:
- ACCESS Health Pathway Program
- ACCESS Engineering Pathway Program
- Social Enterprise Diploma Program
- Indigenous Languages Certificate Program
- Indigenous Culinary Skills Certificate Program
ACCESS programs provide learners with preparatory, exploratory and transitional experience, while the remaining three programs aim to grow Indigenous representation within their respective sectors. The culinary program, for example, will provide courses aimed at developing fundamental culinary and business skills, and will include a cultural component and land-based curriculum. The social enterprise program will focus on the principles of economic reconciliation and how it relates to the Canadian social economy. It will help students address and solve challenges in urban or rural communities. Read More →
More than 200 Indigenous high school students from across the country will visit Red River College today to tour classrooms, meet instructors and explore the many career opportunities and supports available to them, as part of this year’s Soaring: Indigenous Youth Empowerment Gathering.
“Engaging more Indigenous students and providing more pathways to post-secondary education and training is a key priority,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.
“The College is charting a new path forward focused on elevating Indigenous student success, and we are creating new and enhanced programs and supports in order to recruit and retain more Indigenous students, and ensure they have the tools and wraparound supports they need in succeed and thrive.”
While at RRC (the Host College Sponsor for this year’s event), students will explore 11 program areas currently offered or in development, including Indigenous Social Enterprise, Construction Trades, Allied Health Sciences, and Civil Engineering Technology.
“We are excited to welcome high school students from coast-to-coast to our province and our school, and provide an opportunity for them to visit our campus, meet our industry-leading instructors, and interact with the many rewarding career paths and supports available to them,” says Chartrand.
Organized by Indspire, a national charity that invests in Indigenous education, the Soaring gathering provides First Nation, Inuit and Métis students with opportunities to learn about career and post-secondary education options. Gatherings are held across Canada, giving students the chance to take part in motivational career workshops, learn about financial supports, and meet some of Canada’s top employers.
Today, Red River College opened registration for two new Anishinaabemowin language and culture courses, created to support Indigenous language revitalization in Manitoba schools.
“As a College, we are taking the lead to provide more opportunities for educators to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous language and identity, and to continue to strengthen partnerships with Indigenous learners in our community,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.
The new courses are the first of their kind to be offered by RRC, and will be delivered through a partnership between its Schools of Indigenous Education and Continuing Education.
As a key signatory to the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, RRC has responded to an identified need to fill the gap in opportunities for educators to learn to speak, read and write in traditional Anishinaabemowin languages. In doing so, the College will also help support and enhance Indigenous academic success.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has called for action to protect the right to Indigenous languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses,” says Chartrand. “As a learning institution, it is critical for RRC to incorporate Indigenous knowledge, perspective and content to create innovative and relevant programming in order to achieve this.”
Curriculum was developed by a working group comprised of representatives from RRC and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, as well as the Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, and Louis Riel School Divisions. The group’s priority was to ensure RRC could create programming that provides students with a deeper knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture and language history. Read More →
Red River College has launched two programs that move education outside of the traditional post-secondary setting and into remote Manitoba communities — helping Indigenous learners gain the tools they need to enter careers in carpentry, plumbing and other skilled trades.
One of the programs — the first to be delivered by RRC at Lake Manitoba First Nation — has allowed 15 students to work on completing their Level One Carpentry Apprenticeship training while at the same time helping to renovate local infrastructure in their community. The other program, delivered at Sagkeeng First Nation, provided an introduction to trades and plumbing skills via RRC’s mobile training labs (MTLs).
“These community-based training programs are an important example of how the College is helping create more pathways to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners in Manitoba,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy.
“Classes like the one in Lake Manitoba First Nation provide learning opportunities to students who might not be able to access education otherwise. They allow students to remain in their homes and stay connected to family and other support systems, while receiving vital training and doing hands-on work in their community and the surrounding areas.”
Delivered in partnership with Apprenticeship Manitoba, the Lake Manitoba First Nation initiative is a 12-week program that combines theory, safety training and practical learning. It’s delivered in the industrial arts and shops space at the community’s own middle school. The College provides tools and equipment, and students are taught by an RRC instructor and journeyman carpenter. Read More →
As part of National Aboriginal Day celebrations across Canada, Red River College invited a group from its Early Childhood Education Centre to learn more about Indigenous culture through a unique morning experience.
The children were hosted by members of RRC's Indigenous Student Support & Community Relations team, who read to them from David Courchene Jr.'s book, The Seven Teachings, and taught them about traditional drumming with help from wellness counsellor Sherry Gott.
"It was an honour and a privilege to share the Seven Scared Teachings with the children from our daycare centre here on campus as part of the ongoing process for reconciliation," says Gott. "Reconciliation is about action and understanding, and this was a great opportunity to share that knowledge with our next seven generations, in a respectful, supportive environment.
Observed on June 21 (the summer solstice), National Aboriginal Day is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
For generations, many Indigenous Peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
A number of events and activities are taking place throughout Winnipeg to mark National Aboriginal Day, including:
The above activities are free of charge, and open to all audiences.
Red River College has announced the appointment of Rebecca Chartrand as its new Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy, to lead in the enhancement of Indigenous education.
Chartrand will oversee a planned expansion of student supports, the creation of new academic programming, and the expansion and deepening of partnerships between RRC and Indigenous communities.
“We are thrilled to add Rebecca to our senior leadership team,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “The College is moving forward with a plan to add transition and mentoring services to support the success of Indigenous students across the College, and new programs designed to provide the skills needed in Indigenous communities. Rebecca will lead the process in consultation with our elders and our dedicated and experienced faculty and staff.”
Chartrand, who will start in August, comes to the College from Seven Oaks School Division, where she spent the last seven years as Division Lead, Aboriginal Education. Chartrand is also a sessional instructor at the University of Manitoba, the president of the Indigenous Peoples Commission for Manitoba, the founder and professional development chair of the Council for Aboriginal Education in Manitoba, and an education advisor for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
“Education is the key to improving the lives of Indigenous peoples and to improving Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations across Canada,” says Chartrand. “We need to create the programs, supports and opportunities that allow Indigenous peoples to demonstrate their leadership and innovation in all facets of our society. I am excited to be joining a strong Indigenous education program at RRC and a College that is committed to doing even more for Indigenous students.”
With 15 years’ experience in education, Chartrand has created several ground-breaking programs from scratch, including an Ojibwe Kindergarten-to-Grade 3 language school, the first of its kind developed with an urban school board. She also has experience in developing and implementing transitional supports for Indigenous secondary students moving to Winnipeg to attend high school, which in turn has supported their transition to post-secondary institutions. Read More →
Elders, leaders and students from Red River College came together today in a special ceremony to mark the official opening of the College’s first sweat lodge.
Led by Elders Jules Lavallee and Mae Louise Campbell, the event involved more than 20 participants, many of whom had never taken part in this type of sacred ceremony before.
“Today is a very important day as we continue our work to infuse Indigenous culture, knowledge and teachings across our College,” said RRC President Paul Vogt. “Indigenous student success is a priority at Red River College, and that means providing culturally relevant student supports to help remove barriers and create more pathways to success for our Indigenous learners.”
“We have a significant Indigenous student population at Red River College and this important addition to our ceremonial grounds will have an amazing impact for many years to come.”
The dome-shaped structure represents the womb of Mother Earth, and was made out of willow trees that were collected and prepared last November. Once the branches were in position, they were tied together and the frame was covered with canvas.
Each sweat lodge ceremony has a different purpose, and is led by an Elder or spiritual leader who provides teachings and songs. Through this profoundly personal experience, the body is cleansed, which aids in removing stress and improves participants' mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Sweat lodge ceremonies are used to give thanks, to heal, to seek wisdom, and to purify the mind, body, and soul. Read More →