In collaboration with three regional partners and Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Red Deer Polytechnic welcomed educators, staff, students, and the public to Indigenous Culture Camp on June 1 and 2.

Red Deer Polytechnic worked alongside Central Alberta Regional Consortium (CARC), Red Deer Public Schools, and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools to offer this culturally immersive professional and personal development opportunity on its main campus.

“Indigenous Culture Camp provided an opportunity for participants to gather together and connect, and to gain an appreciation of Indigenous knowledge, views, and ways of being,” says Lloyd Desjarlais, RDP Director of Indigenous Initiatives. “We were excited to welcome Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Treaty 6, Treaty 7, Treaty 8, and Métis Nation and Inuit cultures, as they shared personal stories and knowledge about language, culture, health, and relationship building.”

While Indigenous Culture Camp was designed as a professional development opportunity for teachers and education administration, Red Deer Polytechnic faculty, staff, students, and individuals from various sectors also benefitted from the land-based learning opportunities and connections formed during the Camp.

“We were very proud to host Indigenous Culture Camp at Red Deer Polytechnic with three of our valued central Alberta partners,” says Dr. Brent Galloway, Bachelor of Education instructor. “With sessions held outside in Indigenous tipis, participants had incredible opportunities to learn firsthand from Elders and Knowledge Keepers and to immerse themselves in Indigenous Culture. These experiences will serve the Polytechnic’s learners, employees, and all participants well in their careers and daily lives.”

Some of the sessions included Métis History and Story, Cultural Teachings, and Cree Teachings - Traditional Gardens from Planting to Harvest – Understanding the Medicines. The nine sessions, and all learning opportunities throughout the Camp, were made possible because of collaborative networks and partnerships.

“Central Alberta Regional Consortia works directly with education partners and school divisions in central Alberta,” says Patrick Bohnet, CARC Executive Director. “One of our priorities is to build capacity in K-12 Education Stakeholders around First Nations, Métis, and Inuit culture. This year's event was planned for two years, and we were both excited and proud to see it finally take place.”

The benefits from this experience will extend beyond the participants to learners of a variety of ages.

“Participants enjoyed the opportunity to be outside, spend time in a tupik - an Inuit summer dwelling - a Métis Trapper’s tent, and tipis, learning from Elders and Knowledge Keepers,” says Hayley Christen, Coordinator, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Learning Services, Red Deer Public Schools. “Teachers and school leaders will integrate the knowledge they have gained from this experience into their professional practice to benefit all students.”

The ability to gather and to create meaningful relationships and experiences from Indigenous Culture Camp will serve participants well now, and in the future.

“The path towards Truth and Reconciliation is a lifelong journey,” says Selena Frizzley, Coordinator of Indigenous Education Services, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools. “Culture Camp provided an opportunity for the school community to come together to learn, reflect and deepen our understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, so that we can pass on this knowledge to future generations. This Culture Camp was an experience to be on the land and to listen to teachings from Elders and Knowledge Keepers.”