RRC changing student survey after concerns raised over ‘offensive’ questions – Winnipeg

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Questions are being raised about a survey recently sent out to prospective Indigenous Red River College students.

The Indigenous Education Aspiring Student Self-Assessment is a 43-question survey was intended to “determine [their] readiness to start post-secondary education.”

The survey itself contains questions that many people believe to be inappropriate. The college said they revised the survey after “concerns were raised,” and has since discontinued it.

Global News obtained a copy of the 9-page survey, used exclusively for students applying to Indigenous Studies, shown here:

In the survey, students were asked about their alcohol, marijuana, prescription and recreational drug use, as well as their priorities among school, family and community.


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Charlene Harper, a prospective student, said she found the questions offensive.

“Like why would they want to know this information?” she asked.

“When I first looked at it I could see off the bat that it was talking about marijuana and the fact that they just assume that Indigenous people take drugs.”

Fred Spence is a current student originally from Peguis First nation. He said the survey was relying on negative stereotypes.

“I was a little taken aback by the questions. It’s a bit insensitive on some of the options,” he said.

“It doesn’t actually surprise me. I thought maybe Red River would have a better understanding towards it.”


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Riva Harrison from Red River College said the survey was used in early March and sent to only a “handful of students.”

“We have since discontinued the use of the revised versions of this survey because we recognized there is more work to do to develop readiness assessment tools that are appropriate. We take the concerns that were raised during the development of this tool seriously,” Harrison said.

The college said they will be re-working the survey with a plan to re-introducing it in September.

Rebecca Chartrand, the Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy at the college, issued a letter to staff Friday apologizing for the language used in the questions, adding that work will continue toward developing appropriate assessment tools. 

“This is a new pilot project and the survey has been a work in progress. The survey received by the media is an earlier version that was revised when concerns were raised. To date, the survey has been used on a very limited basis and all information collected has been destroyed. The College recognizes that more work is needed in order to develop an assessment tool that is effective and culturally sensitive.”

Chartrand also said in the letter “RRC is committed to breaking down barriers and creating new student-centered programs and supports for Indigenous learners – key aspects of our own Indigenous Strategic Framework and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.”


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Read the full letter sent to staff here:

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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