The college’s third year observing TRC week featured discussions, performances, new training programs
By Bryce Hunt
Red River College Polytechnic sparked important conversations and educated students with its third-annual Truth and Reconciliation Week.
The college was closed for a day of observation on Sept. 30 as Canada recognized the first-annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Still, events were held from Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 at both the Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses.
Events such as trauma discussions, Orange Shirt Day, an Honour Song performance, a live paint session with Indigenous artist Gayle Sinclair, and a closing prayer took place primarily online for students’ accessibility with a few in-person opportunities.
The opening Honour Song performed by Elder Paul Guimond received over 7,400 views within the first three days of TRC Week.
The number of people interested in learning about Indigenous history was exciting, said Carla Kematch, RRC Polytech’s Truth and Reconciliation manager.
“It’s an exciting time for the college, Canada and Indigenous people,” she said. “Canadians are open to building their knowledge on residential schools and the trauma that came with them.”
Alongside the events on campus, the Academic Success Centre at RRC Polytech launched new anti-racism training for students. The focus of the training is to build an understanding on what racism is and how it has created systemic barriers and unfair biases.
The training and events gave students the opportunity to reflect on the country’s tragic history and showed them how they can support those affected.
Caitie McHugh, a Métis nursing student at RRC Polytech, said she appreciates the college’s efforts to recognize Indigenous communities and traditions.
“This is something that is very close to my heart,” she said. “The college has been very respectful about everything, and they always make an effort to recognize the land of Indigenous people.”
Indigenous Student Support & Community Relations departments are set up at the Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses to support Indigenous students with counselling, advising, and Elders-in-Residence.
RRC Polytech’s Elders-in-Residence Ms. Una Swan and Paul Guimond are available for in-person and virtual visits from Indigenous students as well as non-Indigenous students.
For non-Indigenous students wondering how they can support their Indigenous classmates, Kematch said the best support is listening.
“Don’t expect them to have all the answers, self-reflect and learn as much as you can,” she said. “To be a good ally is to observe and watch.”
The recordings from this year’s event can be accessed on RRC Polytech’s website.