COTR hairstyling program honours significance of hair by incorporating Indigenous content

A hairstyling program at the College of the Rockies is honouring the cultural significance of hair for Indigenous people by including lessons about Indigenous culture and inviting elders to share their knowledge. COTR instructor Gwen Stewart, who has worked on incorporating Indigenous content into the curriculum for seven years, learned about the significance of hair from an Ojibwe colleague. She now passes on this lesson by teaching students to ask Indigenous clients if they would like to keep their hair after it is cut and inviting Indigenous elders into the classroom to teach students about truth and reconciliation. The program also engages with the community, and recently instructors and students offered hair braiding at the ?aqamnik’ School Traditional Powwow in Cranbrook. “There’s [been] a lot more acceptance [of Indigenous culture] since I’ve been in this program,” said Métis student Barbie Torres. “[The instructor] brought such diversity and equity to the program.”