RBC Indigenous Mentorship Program
Learning to walk in both worlds
The RBC Indigenous Mentorship program has had tremendous success already, hosting several on-campus events, and growing to 40 student mentors and mentees. Our Indigenous mentors create a safe, welcoming peer support system from within an Indigenous framework. The team works with our students and Elders to develop a sense of belonging and community on campus creating a safe place for Indigenous students attending NorQuest College.
This peer program, made possible with the support of the RBC Foundation, is intended to:
- welcome and assist new First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students to NorQuest College
- function as a peer support group
- be a student voice for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students to make NorQuest College a safe and fun place to learn and grow
- organize events and cultural activities for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students and the NorQuest College community
- develop transferable skills such as public speaking, leadership, governance, event planning, and community engagement
The RBC Indigenous Mentorship Program wants to make it possible for the college's Indigenous students to preserve their culture while learning to survive and thrive in a non-indigenous world... and, they have a lot of fun doing it! If you are First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, you can too.
Join the RBC Indigenous Mentorship program today. Email to Elizabeth Routledge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RBC Indigenous Mentorship Program Symbols - The Buffalo, the Turtle, and the Blanket
The students in the RBC Indigenous Mentorship program have chosen the buffalo as their symbol and part of the group's identity, as seen in the banner at the top of this page.
Over one million Native Americans shared the land of North America with the buffalo. Buffalo were very important to Native Americans and to their survival.
Native Americans honoured the buffalo and lived in harmony with them. They treated the buffalo with respect, and the buffalo was very sacred to them. The buffalo was an important part of many Native American cultures. They considered the buffalo as their relatives. This is because the buffalo gave them many gifts such as food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and tools.
The animal was honoured in songs, dances, and prayers. Native Americans prayed everyday to the Buffalo Nation to ask them to watch over their people and to continue to help them survive. If a dancer wore a buffalo headdress or imitated a buffalo in dance, this was one way of honouring the buffalo. The skull of a buffalo was used in ceremonies. Many other buffalo parts were used to make sacred items.
Native American people learned many life lessons from the buffalo. As children learn from their parents’ example, Native Americans learned from the buffalo’s example of how to live a healthy and productive life. Some of those important lessons were: breastfeeding offspring, valuing both young and old, being physically active, respecting both females and males, healthy eating, and using grazing resources wisely.
The Story of the Star Blanket (80K pdf file) further explains the cultural significance of the buffalo.
The group has selected the turtle as the image on their Pendleton blanket as symbolic of walking between the Indigenous world and the non-Indigenous world.
The turtle is a sacred figure in Native American symbolism as it represents Mother Earth. The meaning of the Turtle symbol signifies good health and long life. The turtle has great longevity living up to 150 years. According to Native American legends and myths of the Eastern Woodland tribes the turtle played a part in their Creation myth. The Earth Diver turtle swam to the bottom of the water that stretched across the world. He surfaced with the mud which the creator used to make the earth. The hard shell of the turtle represents perseverance and protection.
Giving or receiving a blanket demonstrates great respect, honour, and admiration for an individual or group. Indigenous peoples believe blankets take on a life of their own: they have personality and spirit, and will watch over and protect that individual person or group. Blankets are the spiritual link to the ceremony in an event and holds cultural significance to the role. The giving and receiving holds the blessings and prayers to the Spirits and the Creator.
Tradition and Culture
Blankets are given to people during different occasions such as weddings, births, funerals, and graduations. Individuals receive blankets when they are leaving home or the community (warriors, students, travelling, etc.). Many tribes believe the blankets protect the recipient through life and after passing. It is used to honour individuals in life-changing events, to offer in gift-giving ceremonies, to serve as a record of a signficiant event, or to provide protection.
Receiving a Blanket
Receiving a blanket is incredibly meaningful. It shows the giver holds the receiver in a very high respect for their generosity and accomplishments, and is asking for prayers that the individual receives good health and nutrition while away from the family and community. It is believed the blanket will bring good dreams and prosperity.
"When a blanket is placed on an individual, it is like wrapping the respect and admiration of everyone in the community around them physically and spiritually." - Rebecca S., "the meaning of a blanket is a complicated story..."
Events are an important component of the RBC Indigenous Mentorship Program. Through events, the team shares and celebrates indigenous culture with each other and with the greater college community.
Photos from our past events
Jan 22, 2015 - RBC Indigenous Mentorship Day of Welcome salutes students
Sep 08, 2014 - RBC supports student success at NorQuest