Indigenous Education

Stella Blackbird — Elder, Healer and Medicine Teacher — Awarded RRC Honorary Diploma

June 11, 2013

20130509_Stella_Blackbird_0008Each year, Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Known and respected throughout Canada for her wisdom, gentle spirit and tireless dedication to the community, Stella Blackbird has a special ability to build trust and understanding across cultures and nations.

An Elder and Red Eagle Woman from the Turtle Clan, Stella has served as an Elder, Traditional Healer, Medicine Teacher and facilitator for healing programs and teachings across Canada and the U.S. She has devoted years to the women of Keeseekoowenin First Nation (where she resides), and to women and men in neighbouring First Nations communities, providing counselling and healing and leading traditional ceremonies. Stella also provides teachings at Medicine Eagle Camp, which she helped establish on the sacred ceremonial grounds of the ancestors near Riding Mountain National Park.

Stella has a vast knowledge of traditional medicines, which she shares with those from all nations and backgrounds. Earlier in her career, she served as Resident Elder for the Ontario Native Education Counselor Association in Sudbury, and provided health services for the Ojibway Tribal Family Services Sacred Circle in Kenora. She also served for years in the Third Canada Rangers of the Canadian Armed Forces, providing traditional teachings and survival skills to youth and adults at Camp Borden. Read More →

Pilot Program Encourages Youth to Consider a Career in Skilled Trades

May 1, 2013
MTL May 1 2013

Education Minister Nancy Allan (left) and Winnipeg Construction Association President Ron Hambly (centre) look on as Elmwood High School student Samuel Lopez and carpentry instructor Frank Jess build a toolbox in one of RRC's Mobile Training Labs.

Red River College and Manitoba Education are helping to boost trades training through a pilot project that provides Winnipeg youth a hands-on introduction to the trades.

The pilot program provides up to 25 students in Grades 7 and 8 the opportunity to “try out” the type of work typically done by electricians, carpenters and welders. Students from Elmwood High School are attending Red River College once a week for three weeks, to learn about career options in the trades.

“The pilot program is intended to expose young people to the trades as a viable career option,” says Stephanie Forsyth, President, Red River College. “One of the ways to get more young people interested in the trades is to give them more hands-on experience, and help them identify a skill they would love to acquire.”

According to Skills Canada, over the next two decades employers in Canada will find it difficult to hire and retain skilled workers. However, a Statistics Canada survey in 2009 showed just 26% of young people aged 13 to 24 plan to consider a career in the skilled trades.

"The future of Manitoba is being trained here today. These students are gaining valuable experience through hands-on learning,” says Education Minister Nancy Allan. “Projects like these expose students to new potential career opportunities that will lead to good jobs and build our province." Read More →

New Bursary Provides Tuition for those Transitioning out of Provincial Care

April 26, 2013

Youth who grew up in the child welfare system will have the opportunity to attend Red River College tuition-free this fall. The special bursaries will remove one of many barriers that typically see less than five percent of youth in care pursue a post-secondary education.

“Transitioning out of care can be very challenging for many youth—especially financially,” says Stephanie Forsyth, RRC President. “The prospect of student loans and debts may prevent capable students from receiving a post-secondary education. Red River College is delighted to be able to remove that worry for a number of students.”

There are more than 9,500 children and youth in care in Manitoba, with the majority being First Nations and Métis. Typically, once youth in care turn 18 they leave the child welfare system and must fend for themselves. With few supports available, many will find themselves on social assistance or even homeless.

“Youth raised in foster care face unique challenges once they leave the system,” says Jay Rodgers, CEO, General Child and Family Services Authority. “By waiving the tuition fee, Red River College is giving these young people the opportunity for a much brighter future through education and inspiring hope.”

A handful of RRC students have already received a Youth in Care bursary. With the program becoming permanent as of this fall, a minimum of 20 youth in care per year, selected by a child and family services authority, will be eligible to attend the College on a bursary. They will remain on an extension of care with their authority and have their living expenses covered up to the age of 21, so long as they remain students of the College and take a minimum 60 percent course load.

Students must meet regular entrance requirements. Tuition will be fully covered by revenue generated from the College’s Youth in Care bursary endowment fund, which recently received a $100,000 private donation. The College intends to fundraise $1 million to support the program on a permanent basis.

13th Annual Pow Wow Honouring Aboriginal Graduates: Friday, May 3, 2013

April 18, 2013

On behalf of the School of Indigenous Education, Red River College is pleased to host the 13th Annual Pow Wow Honouring Aboriginal Graduates on Friday, May 3, 2013 in the North Gym. Please find below a breakdown of the day’s events.

FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2013

11:30am Pipe Ceremony in the Aboriginal Support Centre, Building “F”, Room 209
1:00pm Grand Entry
3:00pm Honour Aboriginal Graduates – gift giving
5:00pm Feast in North Gym

Stop by for a piece a bannock and sip of tea, or peruse the crafters booths and enjoy the dancing and music.

Should you have any questions, please contact Tracy Brant at 204-632-2106 or email

Forsyth Addresses Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce

December 6, 2012

Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth addressed a packed house at an Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week, speaking on the topic of Aboriginal post-secondary education.

Forsyth discussed the College's longstanding commitment to engaging and supporting Aboriginal students; shared some success stories about Aboriginal graduates who are making a difference in their communities; and outlined how the College plans to make Aboriginal student achievement a strategic priority by integrating traditional knowledge and practices throughout the organization.

The full text of President Forsyth's speech is below.

Read More →

Winkler Campus Instructor Advocates for Increased Cultural Awareness

October 9, 2012

As an instructor at Red River College’s Winkler Campus, she advocates for balanced health in heart, spirit, mind and body.

And as a counselor in the community of Roseau River First Nation, Violet Caibaiosai prescribes an increased awareness of culture and history as the treatment for deficiencies in both mental and physical health.

“One of the most important things would be recognizing what our history is, and then taking an honest look at that history,” says Caibaiosai, who’s taught Applied Counselling courses at Winkler Campus since 2009.

“It’s not always a pretty one, but it’s a difficult one, and it’s important that it be looked at. There’s always an understanding that comes from knowledge and that’s what my goal is, whether it’s in larger society or our own communities. Because people have become so fearful — not only of society, but of themselves.”

A former Ontario native who grew up on the north shore of Lake Huron, Caibaiosai was raised by her parents and grandparents — the latter having imparted the importance of spiritual strength by teaching her about the holistic, healing qualities of traditional medicine.

She incorporates a similar respect for tradition among her students at RRC, noting many who go on to be counsellors may need to draw on that cultural knowledge while working with — and alongside — First Nation residents throughout Manitoba and Canada.

“It’s important for others to understand that history that we have together as a nation,” says Caibaiosai. “There’s a bridge that has to be built, and part of what I do in the classroom is to build those bridges of understanding.” Read More →

RRC Joins in National Aboriginal Day Celebrations

June 20, 2012

National Aboriginal Day is held annually on June 21 to celebrate First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. As Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth points out, we have much to learn about the rich culture and traditions of the people who first walked this land, and National Aboriginal Day provides an opportunity to engage in this learning in an enjoyable and festive environment.

On June 21, an episode of the CBC series 8th Fire will be shown in The Cave at the Notre Dame Campus from noon to 1:00pm. RRC will also host an exhibitor booth at the Indian Métis Friendship Centre (45 Robinson St.) from 10:00am to 4:00pm, while tours of the College's Mobile Training Lab will be held from 11:00am to 2:00pm at 519 Selkirk Avenue, in the parking lot of the Urban Circle Training Centre.

On June 23, RRC Culinary Arts instructors Tom Pitt, Karl Oman and Chantalle Noschese will again participate in APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live festivities at The Forks. The team will contribute to the event's cultural component by serving Aboriginal menu items starting at noon. Aboriginal Liaison/Advisor Jaime Richard and Graham Thomson, Dean of Business & Applied Arts, will also be at The Forks promoting RRC programs, supports and services. Read More →

Aboriginal Success Stories Celebrated at Graduation Pow Wow

May 9, 2012

Red River College's School of Indigenous Education hosted the 12th Annual Graduation Pow Wow last week, honouring the achievements of our Aboriginal graduates and paying tribute to their personal triumphs.

Held Friday, May 4, at RRC's Notre Dame Campus, the event celebrated the accomplishments of 93 Aboriginal graduates, and attracted more than 850 friends, family members and dignitaries to a day-long event that included a pipe ceremony, traditional dancing, and a feast.

Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the Jules Lavallee Award, named after a former RRC Elder-in-Residence. This year's award went to Corey Bear, a student from RRC's Biindigen College Studies program.

Read More →

RRC Joins with Community Advocates to Launch New Selkirk Avenue Development

April 30, 2012

Rob Neufeld, Executive Director, North End Community Renewal Corporation

Representatives from Red River College joined a host of North End advocates and community organizations in celebrating a newly-announced housing and retail development on Selkirk Avenue yesterday morning.

Following news the notorious Merchants Hotel is now being managed by a coalition comprised of 20 government and community agencies, RRC President Stephanie Forsyth commended those involved on their collaborative vision of renewal and revitalization.

"This is what Red River College is all about — meshing the needs of the community with the community's educational goals, so that we can move forward," said Forsyth. "That constant renewal is so critical to initiatives like the one announced today."

Read More →

First Nations Child & Family Advocate to Speak Today at RRC

March 29, 2012

Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, will speak at Red River College's Notre Dame Campus today, March 29, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., in the Black Lecture Theatre.

Blackstock, who's also an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, will speak on the topic of Culture + Equity + You = Hope for First Nations Children.

"Now is the moment when caring Canadians are needed the most," says Blackstock. "We know just what to do to make a big difference in (the lives of) First Nations children and families."

Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan Nation, has worked in the field of child and family services for over 20 years. The author of more then 50 publications, Blackstock's key interests include exploring and addressing the causes of disadvantage for Aboriginal children and families by promoting equitable and culturally-based interventions.

Blackstock's address will also be streamed live at the following web address:

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