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Lodge Caretakers Christine Cyr, Vanessa Lillie and Nicki Ferland stand in front of a wood shed on the Sweat Lodge site behind Migizii Agamik.

Lodge Caretakers Christine Cyr, Vanessa Lillie and Nicki Ferland (L-R)

Scaabe School: Part of an Indigenous education at the University

Join the Oskâpêwis Training Program today

October 4, 2023 — 

Are you interested in learning about the helping roles and responsibilities of being an Oskâpêwis or Helper to the Lodge Keepers and Caretakers for the new Sweat Lodge on Fort Garry campus? Join the Oskâpêwis Training Program, lovingly known as Scaabe School, offered in partnership with the Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous). 

Throughout the program, a cohort of Indigenous UM students will learn experientially, on the land and in ceremony, and will work in teams to support the Sweat Lodges scheduled from October 2023 through April 2024. Scaabes will also gather monthly in a Peer Learning Circle to share and reflect on what and how they are learning.

Lodge Caretaker Vanessa Lillie (Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous)-Director of Cultural Integration) shares, “Practicing the skills learned through supporting the Lodge Keepers and ceremony are a part of understanding more about our relationship to ourselves, each other and a part of our life journey.”

Read more about Scaabe School details and dates on the new program webpage (coming soon)!

This program is open to Indigenous (First Nation, Métis and Inuit) UM students and urban Indigenous youth (18+) representing diverse gender identities and expressions. Knowledge of the Sweat Lodge ceremony is not required, and all experience levels are encouraged to apply.

Of the upcoming launch of Scaabe School, Program Coordinator and Lodge Caretaker Nicki Ferland (Community Engaged Learning Coordinator, Indigenous) says, “We’re so excited! The Sweat Lodge is an important part of the cultural education of Indigenous students at the University and, I think, part of an education that Indigenous students at the UM deserve. So is Scaabe School. The traditional access points to these knowledges and skills have been disrupted, but students are really interested in learning about and taking on these helping roles. We’re providing skills and connections that will enable them to carry on as Helpers in community beyond the program.”

Lodge Keeper and Caretaker Christine Cyr (Associate Vice-President (Indigenous)-Students, Community and Cultural Integration) adds, “Scaaabe School represents the full circle of reciprocity: through their hard work, Scaabes help to provide healing ceremonies for the UM and wider community; in turn, they gain teachings, skills, and access to ceremony themselves. In my personal journey, I am so grateful to be a Scaabe because I learned and earned my teachings while working hard for all of my relations. This is a beautiful way of life.”

The program also includes wraparound supports for Scaabes who have childcare, financial and other needs that may inhibit their full participation, and can help cover costs associated with safety gear, training and other expenses.  

Spots are limited. Apply now!

Contact Nicki [dot] Ferland @umanitoba [dot] ca for more information.

Image depicting trees, a moon and a half circle with a fire and rocks inside

Scaabe School logo

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