On May 10th, Portage College Instructor and Coordinator of the Native Arts and Culture (NAC) program, Ruby Sweetman received the 2019 Esquao Culture Award. The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) awarded 19 Albertan women in various categories during their 24th Annual Esquao Awards Gala. Which recognizes and honours the achievements and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.
“I’m grateful to be able to share my knowledge and I’m honoured to be awarded with the Esquao award,” said Sweetman.
Sweetman began her relationship with the college when she was a student of the NAC program, expanding her traditional artistry with Elsie Quintal as her instructor and mentor.
“Elsie became a part of my family. She was the type of mentor to which everyone was attracted. She was like their mother or grandmother,” she said.
Her talents led to her taking on an instructor role within the program with teachings on hide tanning, footwear, porcupine quilling, fish scale art and basket weaving. Eventually, Sweetman became the Coordinator of the program and continues to strive for student success.
“We have talented and knowledgeable instructors at Portage giving students a quality experience,” said Nancy Broadbent, President and CEO of Portage College. “We are so proud that Ruby is being recognized for her talents with such a prestigious award. The College’s Native Arts and Culture Program is one of a kind in Canada and with the excellent instructors like Ruby we are attracting top artisans across the country.”
Sweetman models Indigenous ways of teaching through storytelling and honouring the land with the upcoming week long course Master Teaching Workshop.
She’ll be teaching traditional Indigenous art from an authentic and culturally sensitive perspective.