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A group of students, many in ribbon skirts, stand together in a semi circle.

The 2023-2024 ICE students at the end of year celebration event.

Celebrating ICE students

Indigenous Circle of Empowerment program hosts year end reception

June 13, 2024 — 

This year’s Indigenous Circle of Empowerment (ICE) students are looking forward to putting the skills they learned through the program into action after an inspirational year of growth and development.

The ICE program is a student leadership program rooted in Indigenous culture. It focuses on personal growth, professional development and community involvement. ICE is designed for Indigenous students who aspire to be leaders in their communities, workplaces and the world.

This spring, the ICE program celebrated the achievements of the student leaders that completed one and two years in the program by gathering with colleagues, friends and loved ones at The Leaf in Assiniboine Park.

Michaela De Hoop, one of the 2023-2024 ICE students who attended the year-end event on April 29, says her brother is an ICE alum who encouraged her to join the program.

“Now that I’ve finished a year of ICE, comparing my experience to my brother’s has been interesting. We both had such transformative experiences but in very different ways,” she says. “A highlight of the year-end ICE event for me was looking at the room full of people who were once strangers and having the honour to call every one of them a friend.”

With support from the EleV partnership, ICE doubled the cohort size for the 2023-2024 academic year.

This year, 25 UM Indigenous student leaders gathered once a week to hear from well-known Indigenous leaders in the community on several topics. These topics included learning traditional knowledge about leadership and ceremony, participating in leadership skill development workshops and speech craft training led by the Anishinaabe Toastmasters.

“This year alone, I have witnessed the formation of countless meaningful friendships and noted significant leadership growth in every single ICE participant who completed the ICE program,” says ICE Program Coordinator Sadie Lavoie. “Many have expressed their desire to return, and others shared how ICE has helped them with their confidence and motivated them to be powerful leaders in their communities back home.”

Lavoie says students in the ICE program gain exposure to diverse perspectives and knowledge across various sectors and build a strong network of like-minded individuals.

As part of the program, the student leaders also organized a two-day event called a “Day in the Life of an Indigenous Student at UM” where they hosted and mentored Indigenous high school students at the Fort Garry campus. The high school students were given the opportunity to experience their first university-level lectures.

An Elder and his grand-daughter stand together at a podium that is adorned with a Métis sash.

Elder Norman Meade and his grand-daughter, Everlee.

The wrap-up event opened with a prayer and the seven sacred teachings from Elder Norman Meade, accompanied by his granddaughter, Everlee Meade.

The evening also featured performances by the all-women-identifying Indigenous drum group, Binesiikwe Singers.

To wrap up the event, the students were gifted ICE-branded jackets for completing the program in a jacket ceremony. Beaded moccasins were gifted to those who completed two years in ICE. The students were celebrated with an Honour Song by Vanessa Lillie.

Justin Rasmussen, director of Indigenous leadership programming and Sadie Lavoie, program coordinator, wish to extend their congratulations to all the graduates on their academic success and will continue to support the ICE alums throughout their future endeavors in their respective career fields.

If you or someone you know may be interested in Indigenous leadership programming such as Indigenous Circle of Empowerment please visit the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment website. The deadline for applications for the 2024/2025 academic year is September 16, 2024.

A new, similar Indigenous leadership program, Bison Spirit, is available for students taking less than 30 credit hours. Applications are now open.


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