Red River takes reconciliation step

Wilson excited to start new Indigenous strategy and business development job

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As an Indigenous student at RRC Polytechnic, Kyra De la Ronde has worked hard to ensure someone who looks like her would someday take on an executive position there.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/11/2021 (308 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As an Indigenous student at RRC Polytechnic, Kyra De la Ronde has worked hard to ensure someone who looks like her would someday take on an executive position there.

That day came faster than even De la Ronde thought.

Jamie Wilson, Manitoba’s former treaty commissioner and a past provincial deputy minister, has been hired as the institute’s first vice-president of Indigenous strategy and business development. He starts Jan. 3.

Former treaty commissioner Jamie Wilson said he looks forward to using the skills garnered from his various careers in his new role at RRC Polytechnic. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

De la Ronde, who is Métis and a second-year student in RRC Polytech’s community development program, said she was hired last summer to help develop the institution’s 2022-26 strategic plan.

The plan includes the renaming and rebranding of the college to a polytechnical institution. It also brought about the creation of the new Indigenous strategy position.

“It’s really amazing for Indigenous students to see someone who looks like them in leadership here,” said De la Ronde.

“As a community development student, I’m really passionate about Indigenous leadership and growth… (RRC) announced in October the strategic plan and now in November, we have someone hired. As an Indigenous student, it is really amazing to this see. It isn’t just words, it’s also action.

Wilson said he can’t wait to start the new job. In a sense, he has already started.

“I’ve had numerous people reach out to me already to meet with me,” he said. “It’s exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Wilson, who comes from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation next to The Pas, graduated with his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and master of education administration degree from the University of Manitoba.

He joined the U.S. army’s special operations and was part of the 2nd Ranger Battalion Super Squad. At Opaskwayak, he taught an outdoor education program and was director of education for the Opaskwayak Education Authority.

Wilson was hired to be treaty commissioner for Manitoba, a body created by the federal government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

After that, under the Pallister government, he served as deputy minister for the education and trade departments, and then was chairman of the Communities Economic Development Fund. He resigned from that post a few months ago in response to controversial comments made by Pallister about Indigenous history in Canada.

Since then, he has worked as a consultant.

Wilson said he looks forward to using the skills garnered from his various careers in his new role at Red River.

“The path that RRC Polytech has committed to, has put it in the right place at the right time to grow to make meaningful progress towards the (Truth and Reconciliation) calls to action and economic reconciliation through increased partnerships with Indigenous students, businesses and communities,” he said.

“I want to get future employees job ready… one of the things I learned in government is how do you impact economic growth and impact in a region?

“One is by getting disadvantaged and disregarded people into the economy — it can have a huge impact on (gross domestic product). With the Indigenous population here, you’re talking about some of the most disadvantaged people in the country. This is just the perfect spot to meet this challenge.”

Fred Meier, RRC Polytech’s president and CEO, said the polytech is fortunate to have hired Wilson.

“The need for this position came out of the development of our strategic plan,” said Meier.

“We did a lot of consultations and what we heard loud and clear was the important role reconciliation needs to play for us, the business community, and for students.

“He is well connected and respected in our community. He is a true leader.”

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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Updated on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 7:42 AM CST: Corrects typo

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