RRC introduces reconciliation micro-credentials

By Don De la Fuente

Red River College hopes to fulfill a call to action with its new suite of micro-credential courses.

The Indigenous Consultation and Engagement program teaches students to build relationships and consult with Indigenous communities.   

“All Canadians should be concerned with the impact (of industry) on Indigenous communities.  What affects the Indigenous communities affects all Canadians in some way,” said Ginger Arnold, co-creator of the micro-credential course and RRC community development instructor.

The course attempts to address the 57th call to action outlined by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said Carla Kematch, RRC’s manager of truth and reconciliation and community engagement.

Elder Mae Louise Campbell, 84, wears her Medicine Wheel earrings in the Indigenous Student Support Centre in honour of the teachings on March 19, 2018. /SAMANTHA DON

Action 57 calls for professional development and education on Indigenous history, residential schools, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaty rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.  

The college is offering the micro-credentials in three online modules with each one taking roughly 25 hours to complete. 

Arnold, now an instructor in the Social Innovation and Community Development program at RRC, designed the original modules while working with the Manitoba government. 

Arnold developed training for the Manitoba government, which became the prototype to RRC’s micro-credential program.  

The college invited her to team up with Kematch to develop the new RRC training program.

Their goal was to facilitate transparent and respectful conversations between industries and Indigenous communities. 

“Indigenous peoples are diverse and developing a strong relationship with nations and communities will allow for deeper understandings of this diversity and how best to engage with them,” reads the Indigenous Consultation and Engagement course description.

When a non-Indigenous group or organization wants to begin a dialogue with an Indigenous community, this program will give the organization, as well as the First Nations people, the tools to begin a respectful conversation, Kematch explained. 

“(Dialogue) can take up to ten years,” Kematch said, emphasizing the amount of work and discussion that goes into a project and the value of having understanding on both sides of the conversation.  

Historically, corporations like Manitoba Hydro have wrought negative social and environmental impacts on Indigenous communities.

“Previous hydroelectric development has negatively impacted First Nations people and left a legacy of suspicion and distrust,” reads a 2015 study on Hydro’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.  

Kematch and Arnold shared their hope that this program will be a step towards reconciliation for all Canadians and the Indigenous peoples.

The college hosted a free program information session on Sept. 28. The first module – Engagement and Relationship-Building with Indigenous Communities – begins Oct. 4 and costs $509. 

Prospective students can apply online