How Mount Royal University is embracing Indigenous Culture
Bigoa Machar, Arts Editor
Over the past three months, the good folks of MRU have treated the general population to a variety of events focused on educating and spreading awareness of First Nations culture. From the second annual Making Treaty 7 play to the first ever Redx Talks event, which was received well on a global scale, those in attendance had the privilege to hear first-hand about Indigenous culture through traditional oral conversation.
Rio Mitchell, the creative director for Making Treaty 7 and Redx Talks, told the Reflector that MRU’s efforts to educate their students and staff, as well as anyone else that chose to attend, about Indigenous culture have not gone unnoticed.
“It is definitely more exposure that we thought we would get. This is part of why the inaugural event is so soon. Redx Talks clearly has a life of it’s own and everyone that we approached with the idea really caught on because it’s just so simple,” says Mitchell. “In a way, it’s so obvious and surprising that it isn’t already alive. So to be able to bring it to life is so exciting and having this much support and having it blow up like this. People are interested and want to go to this more and more, so to see that Redx Talks is as popular as it is makes it quite rewarding and we’re really hoping that all of that excitement translates to more events like this.”
Mitchell goes on to say that she hopes the University can help inspire other institutions across Canada to follow suit.
“Mount Royal is Redx Talks’ official educational partnership and that’s for a really good reason. Really to commend Mount Royal for their objective and their mission to Indigenize the University and now that we have such a strong partnership with mount Royal, we want to have as much to do with the University Indigenizing as Mount Royal wants to do with our events like Redx Talks and Making Treaty 7,” says Mitchell. “Really we’re hoping to help Mount Royal fully indigenize and become a model for other post secondary schools across Canada to show how a campus can really walk the red road and indigenize all of it’s studies and the way that it runs.”
Mitchell tells us that opening up this conversation to non-indigenous people allows them to really indulge and learn more about Indigenous culture.
“It’s exciting to be able to build a knowledge bundle to transfer to future generations and expressing indigenous worldviews. We want to open up these worldviews to non-indigenous people. Our Redx Allies program is really important because it’s important for us to feel like we have an in on the conversation and really learn how I can be the best possible ally I can be, as well as infuse myself into these worldviews that have so much to offer. Being an ally, I have the resources to tap into these worldviews.”
Mitchell also stresses the importance of engaging in this vital conversation in order to shed light on some of the inaccuracies we hold on to and become stronger allies.
“The conversation is open for everyone. That’s how someone becomes an ally. We’re always looking for people with unique points of view to contribute to the conversation. The allies program is really important because I grew up here in Calgary and I learned that I knew so little about the home that has given me so much. And it is because what I learned in school is not exactly the truth after talking to my indigenous friends. I think it’s an important conversation to open up so we can share our history and become the best settlers and allies that we can be.”
To learn more about what MRU is doing to Indigenize the campus, visit the Iniskim Centre or check out their website at www.mtroyal.ca/iniskimcentre