New dean plans to empower outside communities
Evan Matthews, Beat Reporter
As one of the newer members of Red River College staff, Dr. Mark Aquash said he’s ready to make some connections.
“Now that I’m at Red River College, I feel I’m in a position to address needs of surrounding communities, and also position ourselves (RRC) to help empower those communities,” he said. “I want to help organize and bring in the voice of the first nations and aboriginal organizations into the college.”
RRC announced Dr. Aquash was hired as the new dean of indigenous education and community relations on July 28 this summer.
Dr. Aquash received a master’s degree in education while living in St. Paul, Minn. He went on to complete his doctor of education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
As someone who can speak the Anishinaabe language, Dr. Aquash is an active member of the indigenous community in Winnipeg. He has roles in the Council of Three Fires, Walpole Island First Nation, Aazhwaakwaa Territory, Ont., Nimkeep Indodem (Thunder Clan) and Potawatomi/Ojibwe Anishinabe.
“The Council of Three Fires is thousands of years old,” said Dr. Aquash. “The council used to be made up of three separate bands: Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. Over the years, they’ve amalgamated into one band known as Walpole Island.”
The indigenous education and community relations program aims at working cooperatively with RRC staff, students and the surrounding communities to ensure aboriginal students have the support services available to them in order to graduate.
But what about after graduation? Dr. Aquash said he believes the college is in a good position to address the needs of indigenous communities around Winnipeg, and the first step is having people invested in local issues.
With the elections coming up, Dr. Aquash said it’s important for students to get engaged and look to local politicians for accountability.
“The best way to get involved is to have people venture out to fully understand the issues,” he said. “In your riding, find out the candidate’s view of the world, and what their priorities are. Pick the candidate meeting your own specific needs. I think voting is important.“