Vancouver Island University to establish Indigenous mentorship program through US State Department funding

Vancouver Island University

Vancouver Island University (VIU) is the only Canadian university to receive funding through the US State Department’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund after a proposal submitted to the organization with California’s Pitzer College was successful. The funding will be used to bring two established Indigenous mentorship programs together for the benefit of high school students.

VIU’s Su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins and Pitzer College’s Native Youth to College programs are joining forces to increase Aboriginal student access and retention in post-secondary education by launching a cross-border mentorship exchange program for Indigenous youth.

The project was launched thanks to core funding provided by the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, which is US President Barack Obama’s signature education project to increase the number of US students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of Western Hemisphere students studying in the United States to 100,000 by 2020.

“What we are trying to do goes beyond the standard approach to academics. We are drawing on Native North American post-secondary scholars and Elders to work together to contribute cultural knowledge and traditional ways of learning within an academic environment,” said VIU Aboriginal Projects and Elder Support Coordinator, Sylvia Scow. “Current post-secondary students from both our institutions will mentor high school students with input and guidance from our Elders. The high school students will experience an Aboriginal culture other than their own and through it all they will be exploring key issues facing Indigenous communities like climate change, fisheries and community development.”

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