During the past two weeks, 30 children and youth from Winnipeg’s culturally-diverse, inner-city community converged at the Fort Garry campus to play games, have fun, and develop a deeper understanding of Indigenous traditions and activities.
Indigenous Mini U is the first culturally-based camp offered as part of the University of Manitoba’s Mini U program. The purpose of Indigenous Mini U is to provide an inclusive, welcoming and culturally-affirming summer camp experience for indigenous and inner Winnipeg youth. The camp which concluded this past Friday, July 26 was free to all participants and included transportation and snacks.
The camp offered the same benefits of the regular Mini U camp - active play, creativity and leadership development – but also integrates important lessons and activities that teach camp participants about their cultural traditions and identity. And, by fostering a positive cultural identity and sense of belonging among Indigenous and inner-Winnipeg youth, Indigenous Mini U hopes to encourage camp participants to see post-secondary education as an achievable future goal.
Cultural activities included pow-wow dancing, Michif language lessons, Seven Teachings, Metis history and traditions, and a traditional Aboriginal games workshop. Through these and other activities, camp participants learn about the deep influence that indigenous cultural traditions and practices have had, and will have, on their collective past, present and future.
Partners working with Mini U on this initiative include the Executive Lead of Indigenous Achievement and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. Special thanks to David Budd of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc., Shirley Delorme Russell of the Louis Riel Institute/Manitoba Metis Federation, and Norman Fleury, a Michif elder who provided traditional teachings at the camp.
A second Mini U camp for inner-Winnipeg youth is currently being hosted at the Bannatyne campus and will run for three weeks.