Summer Institute July 7-13, 2017 Egg Lake MB

Please note that there will be a Saturday orientation seminar.
June 3, 2017 • 10:00 - 12:00 • Room 2001 • College of Education

Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild
Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Chief WiltonLittlechild speaks about residential schools and the legacy that educational leaders need to help change. (July, 2015)

Graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Saskatchewan are invited to attend this innovative, land based summer institute that focuses exclusively on First Nations and Metis history, worldviews, challenges/realities, pedagogies and culture to develop leadership capacity for those who have leading roles in schools, post-secondary institutions, and communities.

While at the summer institute, you will have the opportunity to hear various Indigenous scholars, elders and cultural advisors speak on topics that relate to Indigenous education, history, treaties, contemporary reality, residential schooling and intergenerational effects, land based teaching, and cultural and linguistic programming.

You will also have the opportunity, if you wish, to participate in a wide range of cultural activities such as pipe ceremonies, sweat lodge building and sweat ceremony, beading, medicine walks and medicine teachings as well as recreational activities such as canoeing, fishing and nature walks.

Dr. Verna Kirkness, the “grandmother of AboriginalEducation” opens Onikaniwak with a historical andcontemporary analysis of Aboriginal education. (July, 2015)

The camp is situated in northern Manitoba on the traditional territory of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Participants may attend this learning experience for 3 credits of coursework towards an undergraduate or Masters degree, or for the purpose of professional growth.

Participants represent a variety of institutional, geographic, and cultural contexts. In the past, the gathering has attracted individuals from southern and northern provincial school divisions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; community colleges and universities from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Montana, and; a number of Indigenous organizations from Canada and the United States.

Cultural Teachings in addition to scholarship

Participants get the opportunity to learn about medicines, attend sweats, take beading classes, go fishing in addition to learning from a wide range of academic type of presentations.

Elders as teachers and advisors

UCN Elders Martha Jonasson of Wabowden Manitoba and Nick Halcrow of Cross Lake attend and act as knowledge keeps, and guides for the entire institute.

Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN)

Numerous members of the OCN tribal health department, education and leadership division collaborate to make this institute possible. On opening night, participants learn tipi teachings and help to build one of the classrooms.

Watch the Video

For Further Information


  • At the University of Saskatchewan, contact Dr. Dawn Wallin, Associate Dean of Education at
  • At Brandon University, contact Mr. Bob Lee, Chair of Graduate Studies at; or Ms. Ina Schumacher at
  • At the University of Manitoba, please contact Dr. Robert Renauld, Chair of Ed Admin and Foundations at
  • At University College of the North, contact Doris Young, Assistant to the President on Aboriginal Affairs at
  • Or, Facilitator/planner and instructor of record for U of M and BU ‐ Dr. Sherry Peden at

Please find additional important FAQ’s and the registration link for the event with UCN

Cost to Attend Onikaniwak

Cost is $700.00 per participant payable to UCN upon registration.

This cost is to cover the camp, all meals prepared by a professional cook, entertainment and speakers. Additional family members will cost $200.00 per adult and $100.00 per child over 5 years. Children under 5 can attend for free. These costs must be paid when you register with UCN.

** University of Saskatchewan students should contact Dr. Dawn Wallin prior to paying the fee, because Dr. Wallin has forwarded a proposal that may cover the additional fees for U of S students and their children.

For financial accounting reasons, should any student have to withdraw from the course, please notify Dr. Dawn Wallin ( immediately because this fee is not being waived; rather, it would be paid on behalf of the student.

To register online use Internet Explorer.

Press Release

Details in the press release from the July 2016 Onikaniwak – the 2017 session will be similar to the 2016 session

This institute is a collaborative effort by University College of the North (UCN, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN). Participants who attend this innovative learning experience can choose to take this institute for: a 3 credit hour undergraduate or graduate course; or for professional development. Participants from Manitoba are also awarded 50 hours of credit towards the Principal’s certification requirements for the Province of Manitoba. The Onikaniwak summer institute is designed to integrate academic presentations alongside cultural teachings and learnings. The institute has hosted a range of prominent scholars speaking alongside of cultural advisors and Elders. For example, the academic presenters have included:

  • Dr. Verna Kirkness on the history of Aboriginal education in Canada;
  • Former co-commissioners Murray Sinclair, Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
  • Former Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Mr. Ovide Mecredi, on the topic of treaties;
  • Drs. Alex and Stan Wilson on Indigenous epistemologies and Indigenist pedagogies;
  • Leo Nijssen of UCN on the constitutional rights of Aboriginal people;
  • Dr. Douglas Sanderson, on Indigenous law;
  • Dr. Lorena Fontaine, on Aboriginal language programs;
  • Dr. Laara Fitznor on Indigenous worldviews and allied relationships;
  • Dr. Shirley Myran on contemporary Aboriginal education;
  • Allen Sutherland and Connie Wyatt Anderson from the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba;
  • Dr. Myra Laramie and Helen Settee-Robinson of the Aboriginal Education Directorate;
  • Sharon Parenteau, of the Manitoba Métis Federation;
  • Theodore Fontaine – residential school survivor and author of the book, “The Broken Circle”;
  • Grant Kreuger from Frontier School Division on the Engaged learners program;
  • Janet Head, Alice Young and Edwin Jebb from the Cree Nation Tribal Health department on the topic on intergenerational effects of residential schools;
  • Wilfred Buck from the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre for his teaching on the constellations and the relationship to creation stories.

UCN Council of Elders representatives participate for the entire week and provide wisdom and support for students and staff:

  • Martha Jonasson, from Wabowden
  • Nick Halcrow, from Cross Lake
  • Albert Tait, from Nelson House
  • Theresa Bighetty, from Pukatawagan

Cultural advisors who have participated and have provided numerous teachings over the course of the week include:

  • Kevin Lewis, Derrick and Clifford Stick, Elvis Broken Nose from Onion Lake, SK., who held morning pipe ceremonies, assisted participants with rattle making, set up and held nightly sweats or purification ceremonies, and taught various traditional songs and teachings;
  • Beetle Omeaosis, Joe Partridge and the members of the tipi set up crew from OCN who demonstrated how to set up the tipi and the meaning of each of the poles, and the teachings associated with the tipi;
  • Shirley Nepinak of Camperville, MB, who has conducted beading classes.

Onikaniwak was considered to be a tremendous learning experience as indicated in comments such as:

  • "it didn’t feel like learning" yet I learned so very much;
  • "most powerful to learn about the Indigenous version of Canada’s history as well as the survivor and inter-generational survivor stories";
  • "Experiencing the tradition and culture that fosters love and the relationship between all people and allows us to share our own stories, no matter how difficult. My heart is leaving here more nourished and lightened than ever before";
  • "there is a whole world up north that I was not aware of – continue doing this very important kind of learning".

Events like can Onikaniwak happen only because of collaboration and a will to try different ways of learning in authentic ways. Special thanks go out to the planning and host team: Dr. Dawn Wallin from U of S; and Dr. Sherry Peden, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, and the planning team from UCN who work tirelessly to host this event: CBS Vice President Donna Carriere, Aboriginal Advisor to the President, Doris Young, Director of the Center for Aboriginal Language and Culture, Esther Sanderson, Dean of Student Services, Florence Watson, as well as Camp Manager and logistics, Leo Nijsssen. We also need to salute our UCN Chancellor, Mr. Edwin Jebb of OCN who helps us develop a wide range of connections and collaborations that helped Onikaniwak become a reality.