‘It’s super important to me’: RRC Polytech student

By: Kimberly Wiesner 

Red River College Polytechnic hosted its first ever Inclusion Week. Events ran the first week of November at the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses.

“It’s super important to me, not just because of my identity as a trans person, but for all people of marginalized identities to feel like they really have a place at the college,” Devin Slippert, social innovation and community development student, said. 

Events that open up discussion around diversity are long overdue, but it’s great to see them happening now, Slippert added.

Some of the events featured in Inclusion Week were wellness sessions that addressed mental health in the workplace, Métis history lessons in which students wove brightly coloured flowers in a traditional beading project, and a lively story time led by local Drag Queen Miss Gender.

The Notre Dame Campus held six of the eight in-person events.

“Definitely there were some in-person-only events at the Notre Dame Campus that I would have liked to attend, but I don’t have a car. I take the bus, and because of that I wasn’t able to fit the trip into my schedule,” Slippert said.

Slippert said virtual workshops made the experience more inclusive to those who weren’t able to attend in person and hopes the college will continue hybrid options in the future.

MLA Uzoma Asagwara (left) shakes hands with RRC Polytech’s president Fred Meier (right) in the Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building on Oct. 31, 2022. Asagwara delivered a keynote presentation as part of the college’s Inclusion Week. (Kimberly Wiesner)

“We’re documenting everything and really hoping that this can be the first of many Inclusion Weeks to come,” said Jody Gillis, organizer.

The team organizing Inclusion Week said the goal was to connect the community, spark conversations, and inspire change across the college.

Gillis said he hopes Inclusion Week will expand people’s understanding into areas they might not have heard about before.

Jyotika Sharma, a Business Administration student at RRC Polytech, attended the first event — a luncheon followed by a keynote presentation from Uzoma Asagwara, one of the first black and openly queer MLAs to win a seat as an elected representative in Manitoba. 

“It’s a great way to learn about new things and gain new understandings,” said Sharma.

Sharma said the college is doing a good thing by dedicating a week to showcase different forms of diversity, but believes the topic of inclusion and diversity is still not talked about enough. She said she wants the college to host additional events throughout the year.