Aboriginal eMentoring BC

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Aboriginal eMentoring BC

Vancouver , CanadaVancouver , Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Aboriginal eMentoring BC is an online mentorship program supporting Aboriginal youths’ transitions through high school to post-secondary health science programs

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Aboriginal people are generally underrepresented in post-secondary education and over-represented in unemployment rates, particularly in the health care field. Those who do work in health care typically fill supporting, rather than leading, roles (e.g. orderlies versus doctors). This occupational gap can be explained by high school graduation rates that are 30% lower for Aboriginal students than non-Aboriginal students; those who do graduate often lack the course or grade prerequisites to enter post-secondary institutions. eMentoring targets Aboriginal students across BC between 11 and 18 years of age, which is a critical stage in their developmental pathway towards a successful education and career.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is the creation of an online mentoring support network for Aboriginal youth called Aboriginal eMentoring BC (eMentoring). eMentoring connects Aboriginal youth aged 11 to 18 (mentees) with post-secondary health science students (mentors). The mentors support mentees in completing a holistic personal quest that fosters the confidence and skills mentees need to realize their full potential and to make successful transitions into post-secondary programs. The program is premised on the idea that connecting Aboriginal youth with their ‘near-peers’ can empower them to shape their futures and keep their options open for a career in the field of health. The opportunities opened up by this experience will have far-reaching benefits in the lives and communities of our mentees.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

One example of how eMentoring has made a difference can be illustrated by one of our most active mentor-mentee matches. As they worked through the personal quest, this pair discussed the mentees’ personal expectations and goals (which include achieving more A’s on her report card and attaining a scholarship for university), and how to plan for and attain them, in a way that was profound, reflective, and solution-focused. The mentee opened up to her mentor by discussing challenges in her life, such as dealing with pressures she feels from herself and her family. The quest has also encouraged the mentee to reflect on who she is and what she wishes to achieve; she summed up her new perspective gained from eMentoring by saying: “If I think of how I want people to see me, I think I could be able to make myself into the person that I want to be without completely changing the person I already am...” A number of other mentors and mentees have built successful, trusting relationships in which mentors give advice and provide encouragement to their mentees. At the same time, these relationships have given mentors the experience and confidence needed to make a difference in their communities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While there are other mentoring programs targeting Aboriginal youth, eMentoring is unique in its use of an online communication platform and its focus on cultural relevance. eMentoring’s online format offers an advantage over face-to-face mentorship programs by enabling rural and remote youth to connect with mentors attending post-secondary institutions across significant distances. eMentoring’s culturally relevant curriculum also sets it apart from similar programs. Unlike most mentoring programs for Aboriginal youth, the eMentoring program is based on a holistic personal quest that is embedded with content and metaphors that resonate with Aboriginal ways of knowing and learning.

Founding Story

The idea for eMentoring emerged from discussions Mr. James Andrew, the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Aboriginal coordinator, had with grade 12 students across BC about UBC’s mission to improve Aboriginal representation in medicine and the health sciences. Mr. Andrew realized that many students were interested in health science careers, but were either not doing well in school, or had dropped out and believed they missed their chance. After hearing about and discussing this insight, Dr. Sandra Jarvis-Selinger convened an interest group with representatives from UBC departments and institutes whose missions encompass Aboriginal education; the group agreed that an online support network could encourage Aboriginal youth to finish high school and pursue a career in health by connecting them with university health science students. These connections were to be established well before youth reached grade 12 so they would have the necessary pre-requisites to transition into post-secondary.
About You
UBC eHealth Strategy Office
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

UBC eHealth Strategy Office

Organization Country

, BC, Vancouver

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Vancouver

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Vancouver, Coast and Mountains, Vancouver Island, Thompson Okanagan, Kootenay Rockies, Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Equity.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

eMentoring is a dynamic, culturally relevant, and technology-enabled program that aims to improve the attitudes and motivation of Aboriginal youth toward staying in school, while cultivating interest in the health sciences. Specifically, our goal is to:
a) Target students before they leave the K-12 school system, ideally between Grades 7-12;
b) Support Aboriginal students’ transition to post-secondary institutions; and,
c) Promote Aboriginal students’ confidence and interest in health science education.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Using collaborative and inclusive principles, our group has forged partnerships with Aboriginal communities and school districts across the province to engage and support mentees, as well as strategic institutional and organizational partnerships to support health science student mentors. These partnerships have resulted in the enrollment of 66 mentees and 58 mentors in the eMentoring program, across three First Nations communities, two school districts, and 5 post-secondary institutions. Mentor-mentee relationships are continuing to develop and evolve, and most participants are excited to continue their involvement into the following school year.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Over the next five years, we expect eMentoring to build capacity at both community and university levels. With respect to community capacity, eMentoring is expected to increase the number of Aboriginal high school graduates successfully transitioning into post-secondary institutions, in particular health science programs. Ultimately, we anticipate that a number of mentees will return to practice health professions in their home communities, thereby increasing local capacity for health care service delivery and research. Regarding university capacity, we want to influence the way academic institutions support health science program accessibility by creating real opportunities for Aboriginal students to succeed.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The BC teachers’ labour dispute was a significant barrier in eMentoring’s first year, limiting our ability to coordinate activities across Surrey school district, eMentoring’s largest community. We circumvented this barrier by working closely with key staff to organize in-person mentee recruitment and information sessions within school hours. Future challenges include meeting demand for additional mentors and mentees as eMentoring expands, and reaching mentees in rural areas without regular computer access. We will overcome these barriers by considering innovative solutions and partnerships, such as making eMentoring a credit course and installing computers in participating schools through Computers for Schools BC.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Build on conversations and more formally engage stakeholders in Bella Bella and others in Northern BC.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Community engagement and networking;

Task 2

Technology assessments within communities; and,

Task 3

Mentee and Mentor recruitment to ensure smooth entry into the eMentoring program.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Identifying longer-term funding and exploring feasible methods to achieve financial sustainability and long-term impact.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Networking and highlighting eMentoring`s impact to develop partnerships with potential funders

Task 2

Undertaking a program evaluation in which key steps towards sustainability are identified

Task 3

Meet with school district partners to discuss opportunities to embed eMentoring into high school students' required curriculum

Tell us about your partnerships

eMentoring has a range of community and institutional partners that play key roles in mentor-mentee recruitment, online platform development, and championing eMentoring’s growth and implementation. Our community partners include: Akisq’nuk First Nation, Adams Lake Band, Sto:lo Nation, Surrey School District, and the Central Okanagan School District. Other partners include: icouldbe.org, Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, First Nations Technology Council, Vancouver Island Health Authority, and various institutional departments, programs, and services with overlapping missions.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

eMentoring currently targets Aboriginal youth aged 11 to 18 in BC who may be interested in a health science career. As eMentoring becomes more established as a successful mentoring program, we would like to expand our reach to students interested in other career areas (e.g. social sciences, art, etc.), and eventually to students in other Canadian provinces and beyond. In the long term, we also envision branching out to youth in other cultural minority groups.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Our dynamic team of staff and volunteers who, provide support and advice to our student participants, is key eMentoring’s success. Having Community Leads situated within each community providing on-the-ground support ensures that there is always someone close-by to encourage, facilitate and actively recruit mentees. The eMentoring team aims to foster a supportive work environment for our staff, and to give our volunteer mentors direct support, encouragement and training to ensure they are fully comfortable and capable in their roles. Our project team strives to continually learn and build upon our experience so that the program can achieve its full potential.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We would be interested in creating reciprocal relationships with other programs that have similar goals so that we can provide multidirectional engagement for our mentees.