Some RRC students say college’s Indigenous centre is underused
By Kyle Weidman
Red River College’s Indigenous centre has been running on-campus for years, but some students say not everyone knows they’re welcome.
“It’s a place for everybody, but not everybody comes here,” said Shania Murdock, a Red River College graphic design student from Fisher River Cree Nation.
Murdock comes to the space a few times a week and enjoys hanging out in the lounging area – but she said she thinks not enough students, especially non-Indigenous students, feel comfortable using the centre’s resources.
The centre includes a food bank and kitchen, a lounge, a computer lab and other services and resources to help Indigenous students transition more comfortably into post-secondary education.
The Indigenous centre is vital to Indigenous students who need a sense of community and connection to their culture while attending post-secondary school, said Jessica Nepinak, a student in the college’s youth recreation activity worker program.
“All Indigenous spirituality has to do with community,” said Nepinak. “It’s important to have brothers and sisters together.”
Nepinak said non-Indigenous people can have trouble understanding what it’s like for Indigenous people to leave their communities and come to Winnipeg for college.
“I think it’s about just having a place to be around people you identify with,” said Nepinak. “People who have similar struggles, life experiences – it’s really good to have other Indigenous people come in and encourage you to continue post-secondary [education], because it’s not really something a lot of us thought that we could do.”
Indigenous liaison and advisor Monica Morin said she believes students who tap into the their culture, background and teachings at the centre while they’re going to school are walking away with more than just an education.
“It’s important, and sometimes people forget that there’s so much depth to our students we don’t know about,” said Morin. “Students are trying to transition to Winnipeg and can be pretty naïve about what’s going on here.”
Morin said some of the most important services the centre provides include things like academic coaching, “navigation coaches” that help students with sponsorship, housing, daycare and anything related to their transition and wellness councillors helping with resources not offered on-campus, including sweat lodge visits.
The centre also includes an Indigenous elder on campus on some weekdays who can provide cultural teachings like naming and pipe ceremonies.
The Indigenous centre is located in room P407 at the Exchange District campus and in room F209 at the Notre Dame campus.