Indigenous students grad powwow lights up RRC Polytech
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/05/2022 (330 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Red River College Polytech’s annual Indigenous students grad powwow marked a welcome return to in-person, on-campus celebration Friday.
The day-long affair was filled with the sound of drums, sights of regalia and the smell of bannock. After a pipe ceremony and awards presentation, students visited a hallway market filled with Indigenous vendors.
The Winnipeg college recognized 170 graduates at the powwow — the largest number in its 20-year run — its first in-person ceremony since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s memories — today they have their family with them, their friends… They’re here because they’re proud of their success. I hope, I know we are all here to celebrate their successes,” said Monica Morin, program manager for RRC Polytech’s school of Indigenous education. “It’s a beautiful day.”
There was an opportunity for the school to better foster camaraderie among its Indigenous students through such in-person events now that restrictions have loosened, Morin added.
“Getting together is so important for our communities, in a powwow setting, it is a ceremony.”
Among those collecting diplomas Friday was 23-year-old valedictorian Kyra De La Ronde, a Métis student from Selkirk who had been studying community development.
“Being back with Indigenous people in an Indigenous celebration is so honouring to me. It’s been really, really long, I’ve really missed it,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people needed this, needed to come together.”
De La Ronde is already working in her field — she serves as the provincial youth chairwoman for the Manitoba Métis Federation — and wants to further foster economic independence within her community.
“I really hope to work for my nation, and bring any skills that I’ve learned here back to my community, and really just ensure we have a strong economic future and economic prosperity for all,” she said.
Seeing such a large number of her fellow Indigenous graduates in one space was meaningful to De La Ronde.
“I think it shows that during the pandemic, we’ve really missed having a gathering place and having somewhere to come together,” she said.
“And I think for the turnout we’re seeing today, it just also shows that there’s a lot of Indigenous excellence within these institutions.”
The University of Manitoba will host its in-person Indigenous students grad powwow Saturday.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.