By Dave Baxter
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
One of this province’s largest educational institutions will spend this week focused on the issue of reconciliation with Indigenous people, and on the often grim history and legacy of residential schools.
In a media release, Red River College Polytech (RRC Polytech) said that Monday to Thursday of this week will be recognized as the fourth annual Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Week at the college.
The college said they hope that staff, students and all Manitobans take this week as “a time to learn, reflect and spark conversations that will contribute to understanding, healing and creating stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”
“Employees and students will be immersed in Indigenous teachings, storytelling and experiences to evolve their understanding of history and current issues impacting Indigenous people, reconciliation efforts, and society as a whole,” RRC Polytech said in their media release.
TRC Week will be, according to RRC Polytech, a blend of in-person, virtual and self-guided events and experiences offered by departments from across the college, and will focus on topics including residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Orange Shirt Day, and Every Child Matters.
“Truth and Reconciliation Week at RRC Polytech has grown to become a cross-departmental collaboration to offer a wide variety of events for staff and students.” RRC Polytech director of truth and reconciliation and community engagement Carla Kematch said.
“With this being our fourth year, we can build upon the foundational knowledge we have developed, and really dive deeper into topics staff and faculty require to move forward in their work.”
Kematch added that the college will host a public Indigenous research methodologies session with Dr. Shawn Wilson, the author of Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, with that taking place on Monday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“As a polytechnic, there’s a huge opportunity to integrate Indigenous teachings and knowledge, to create learning opportunities from influential scholars in this space,” Kematch said.
On Monday, RRC Polytech will also be signing Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) national Indigenous Education Protocol, a signatory that provides a framework for colleges in Canada to “improve their practices, and better serve Indigenous peoples.”
“RRC Polytech is furthering its commitment to reconciling a broken trust in our education system and advancing Indigenous achievement through addressing barriers, embracing new ways of learning, and knowing, and working together to create meaningful change,” RRC Polytech Vice President of Indigenous strategy, research and business development Jamie Wilson said.
“To truly embed Truth and Reconciliation and create transformational change, we need to do the work as Individuals and as a collective. TRC Week brings many opportunities to both learn and apply the learning, helping to build critical pathways between RRC Polytech, Indigenous students, and Indigenous communities and businesses.
“RRC Polytech is committed to continuing the journey of Truth and Reconciliation as individuals, and collectively as a College community.”
A full list of RRC Polytech’s Truth and Reconciliation Week events can be found by visiting rrc.ca/indigenous/news.
-Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.