Aboriginal Learning Center

Place of Spirit

Manido Onji “Place of Spirit”: OCDSB’s Aboriginal Learning Center

The Aboriginal Learning Center is an OCDSB space that is housed at Rideau High School. Designed in consultation with the students at Rideau, youth workers at Wabano, and several elders from various Aboriginal communities, our Aboriginal Learning Center serves three main purposes:
1. To provide a space for FNMI educational programming at the local school level
2. To provide a space for professional development and FNMI educational programming board-wide, and
3. To provide a culturally safe and relevant space that can be used by the Aboriginal community for events through the Community Use of Schools process.


Smudging is a tradition, common to many First Nations, which involves the burning of one of four sacred medicines gathered from the earth. These four medicines are: sweetgrass, sage, cedar, and tobacco. There are many ways and variations on how a smudge is done. Smudging encourages people to stop, slow down, become mindful and focused. This allows people to be attentive to the event, task or purpose at hand. Historically, Métis and Inuit people did not smudge; however, today some Métis and Inuit people have incorporated smudging into their lives.
The OCDSB recognizes the significance and importance of smudging to some First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students and their families. In our efforts to support this practice in the Aboriginal Learning Center, we have created a smudge room that has special ventilation to allow the ceremonial practice of smudging to occur.
The OCDSB recognizes that smudging is always voluntary. No one is never forced or pressured to smudge. It is completely acceptable for a person to indicate that he/she does not want to smudge and that a person may choose to leave the room during a smudge.

Booking of the Aboriginal Learning Center

Scheduling of events that will take place during school hours in the Aboriginal Learning Center is done through Rideau High School’s office staff, who can be reached at (613) 746-8196. Anyone wishing to book the space during school hours must agree to follow school protocol and rules while in the space and its surrounding building.
Scheduling priority is as follows:
The Aboriginal Learning Center is reserved for OCDSB professional development every Tuesday from 8 am to 4 pm. On Tuesdays, the Aboriginal Learning Center is closed to students and the community. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are booked on a first come first serve basis for staff and students at Rideau High School.
Other schools or community organizations may reserve the Aboriginal Learning Center one week in advance of an event they are planning, provided that it is not already booked by one of the groups listed above.
Scheduling of events in the Aboriginal Learning Center after school hours is done through the OCDSB Community Use of Schools procedure.
For more information on our Aboriginal Learning Center, or to book a time to view the space, please contact the office administrators at Rideau High School at (613) 746-8196 or Nancy Henry, Instructional Coach, FNMI Education at (613) 596-8211 Ext. 8159.
*Pictured above: The Aboriginal Learning Space Mural - Created by students & two youth workers from Wabano. The mural was painted onto the wall of the smudge room by Rideau & Urban Aboriginal High School students.
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