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A unique feature of the MDP program is the week-to-ten day-long orientation that takes place before classes begin for the incoming students. It serves as a bonding experience for the new cohort, immerses the cohort within a Canadian Indigenous community, and it orients the participants to the purposes of the MDP program.

A central part of the Orientation is hosted in the Cree community of Fisher River where students are exposed to Indigenous culture first hand. Community leaders, youth, and knowledge-holders share their experiences, and the challenges and the successes of community development. Discussions include governance, environmental issues, education, health, traditional knowledge, and the impact of residential schools. Students also are welcome to take part in different cultural activities.

The remaining part of orientation takes place in Winnipeg, where presentations are made on such topics as the history of treaties, urban Indigenous issues, conflict resolution, privilege, and the importance of self-reflection.