Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) has received a $250,000 pledge from Scotiabank to support the establishment of the Land Based Learning and Reconciliation Initiative. Part of the broader ScotiaRISE effort, this initiative aims to create a dedicated space on campus for learning, community engagement and the promotion of Indigenous traditions and teachings.

“Elders and staff at RDP have identified an on-campus location which is an ideal setting for an Outdoor Learning Space, located on the south side of the campus adjacent to Waskasoo Creek, the space features a natural amphitheater, pathways and ample open space suitable for a range of programming,” comments Lloyd Desjarlais, Dean, Indigenous Initiatives. “The space, surrounded by abundant wildlife and access to naturally growing medicinal plants sacred to Indigenous communities, will serve as a dynamic venue for integrating cultural and Indigenous perspectives across all of our academic programs.”

Stuart Cullum, President of Red Deer Polytechnic, emphasized the significance of Scotiabank's contribution: "We are immensely thankful for this generous donation from Scotiabank, which will allows us to offer distinct educational and cultural experiences to our students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. This area will not only be a vibrant centre for land-based learning and social interaction, but it will remind us of our responsibility to advance reconciliation and deepen the ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities."

Under the guidance of an Indigenous Steering Council, the initiative will enhance collaborations with Indigenous organizations and communities. The Outdoor Learning Space is designed to provide a welcoming and inclusive gathering place for educational and cultural engagements, including ceremonies, arts, and community gatherings, fostering deeper understanding and respect for Indigenous knowledge and traditions.

"Scotiabank is honoured to partner with Red Deer Polytechnic on the Land-Based Learning Initiative, furthering Indigenous student inclusion and engagement, and building understanding for all students of traditional Indigenous learning experiences. The Land-Based Learning Initiative helps build brighter futures for students of Red Deer Polytechnic, and further reconciliation here in Central Alberta," says Scott Bollman, District Vice President, Scotiabank. "I thank Red Deer Polytechnic for the opportunity to be involved."

RDP's partnership with Scotiabank represents a significant advancement for the Polytechnic in its continuous efforts to incorporate meaningful reconciliation initiatives and educational enhancements on campus.