Sponsored by MITT

On Friday, April 14, 2023, the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) took an important step forward in the growth of Indigenous initiatives and supports at the college with its first Pow Wow, which was a resounding success.

The event celebrated the achievements of Indigenous graduates from across MITT’s programs, bringing together students, staff members, guests, community members, dancers and drummers in a traditional Indigenous ceremony.

“We are thrilled by the response. The Pow Wow is part of the work we’re doing to support Indigenous learners and meet their cultural and learning needs at MITT,” says Rhonda Klippenstein, MITT’s manager of Indigenous initiatives and community development. “The community’s participation shows their willingness to accompany us as we continue our journey to create a welcoming environment for Indigenous learners that embraces and incorporates their culture.”

The Pow Wow is just one component of MITT’s broader commitment to supporting Indigenous learners, building
relationships with Indigenous communities and advancing reconciliation across all aspects of the college. By collaborating with Indigenous Peoples, MITT aims to embed reconciliation into its campuses and programs, paving the way for a stronger shared future.

The day-long event included a traditional pipe ceremony, drumming, dancing, singing and feasting, and featured Indigenous crafters. More than 70 dancers showcased their colourful regalia and dances, and four drum groups filled the room with song, creating an energy felt by everyone present. Graduates were recognized with honour songs and traditional gifts.

One of the graduates recognized was Fawn Seymour, a student in the Women of Steel: Forging Forward program
offered at MITT in partnership with the CWB Welding Foundation. The program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning Literacy and Essential Skills – Women’s Employment Readiness Program. Designed to introduce those identifying as women to the welding and welding-related skilled trades while reducing barriers to education for designated equity groups, the program gave Seymour a chance to train for a career she’s passionate about. The opportunity to celebrate this at the first-ever Pow Wow was meaningful for Seymour, who participated as a graduate and a dancer.

“I’m a jingle dress dancer; I have been dancing since I was a little girl,” says Seymour. “Sharing my culture with my classmates and school was a powerful experience. The most emotional and motivating moment was when I stood in the graduation line wearing my regalia. Seeing all the hard work I put into this program and pursuing my passion in welding was truly a special moment.”

Adding even more significance to the occasion, Seymour’s younger brother, who completed MITT’s carpentry program, was also recognized as a graduate and proudly stood alongside Seymour in the graduation line.

The Pow Wow concluded with a traditional feast created by MITT’s Culinary Arts and Design students and Food Services staff. A crowd of hundreds gathered to savour the delicious meal and express gratitude towards the individuals who contributed their support, knowledge and gifts throughout the day.

“The Pow Wow was an important milestone for MITT that demonstrated our commitment to creating a safe and
supportive environment for our Indigenous learners that recognizes and embraces their cultural and spiritual needs,” says Neil Cooke, Vice-President, Academic. “We look forward to the Pow Wow being an annual recognition of the hard work of our Indigenous learners and the future that education makes possible.”

MITT’s supports include Indigenous student advisors and a Knowledge Keeper who offer guidance and resources to support students throughout their academic journeys. The Aazhogan Indigenous Centre, located at MITT’s Henlow Campus, is a dedicated space for assistance and community.

To learn more about MITT’s programs and Indigenous initiatives, visit MITT.ca.