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Walking the Red River Road

Students in WSD's Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program had a chance to explore Red River College's Notre Dame campus during a daylong visit on Feb. 15.

The visit was one of five major Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program events scheduled during the school year. The group has also gone medicine gathering in Birds' Hill Park, learnt about tipis and Métis culture at The Forks and attended the Reel Canada Film Festival.

"Any student in Manitoba can get a credit for exploring a culture…we specifically provide opportunities for students to explore Aboriginal culture," said Shirley Delorme Russell, an Aboriginal Graduation Coach based at Grant Park High School.

Close to 160 students visited RRC for the day.

"This is an opportunity for these students to see themselves as being students at Red River College. These students could realistically be attending here next year, and we want them to see all of the supports that are available to them through Red River College's Aboriginal Student Centre," Ms. Delorme Russell said.

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Along with a day of exploring and experiencing Red River College firsthand, the day was also about hearing Indigenous success stories. Students had the opportunity to hear from Aboriginal students who are now attending RRC as full time students.

The keynote speaker for the event was Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute alumnus and current Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson.

Ms. North Wilson shared her life story, which included difficulties transitioning from Oxford House to life and schooling in Winnipeg. Despite early struggles and a recurring lack of opportunities, Ms. North Wilson went on to become a television journalist and later Grand Chief at MKO.

"I know all of you have ambition, because you wouldn't be here if you didn't," Ms. North Wilson said. "And your ambition should be met with opportunity. Our job as adults, industry and government to create these opportunities."

Red River College staff members were enthusiastic hosts for the day, taking students on an Amazing Race to explore different programs at the college.

Grant Park student Brad Monias, who came to Winnipeg from St. Theresa Point First Nation, said the experience was a worthwhile one.

"For us as students, it's great to see these people and hear from them about these programs," Brad said. He added that he ultimately wants to return to St. Theresa Point after post-secondary. "I want do something that will help with my community's needs."

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