Aboriginal High School Mentorship Program

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a winner.

Aboriginal High School Mentorship Program

Canada
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Carleton University’s Centre for Initiatives in Education (CIE) offers an Aboriginal High School Mentorship program where Carleton students work as peer mentors with Aboriginal high-school students in the Ottawa area, through involvement in the classroom, lunch clubs, after-school clubs, or cultural clubs. This program is the result of a partnership between the CIE and Carleton’s Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CACE). CACE supports Aboriginal (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) students through their academic journeys at the university.

The mentors are role models and academic/cultural coaches who assist students with their coursework by offering learning strategies and practical advice; the mentors’ post-secondary experiences enable them to refer students to helpful resources and information as a bridge between high school and post-secondary or career goals. The positive relationship between mentor and student helps increase confidence, contributes to the achievement of goals, and fosters an understanding about learning and life challenges. Currently, Carleton Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students are working at the Odawa Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School, which offers a fully Aboriginal curriculum in a holistic learning environment. The mentor program has recently expanded to include two mentors at Rideau High School.

In 2009, CIE’s Aboriginal High School Mentorship program, CACE and Odawa Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School collaborated to develop the Manaadjitowaanwin or ‘Respect’ Workshop. The purpose was to provide intensive training for the CIE/CACE Aboriginal student mentors as well as volunteers and staff from other organizations who work with Aboriginal youth, and to develop resources for training future mentors. This workshop represented a pilot project in developing local Aboriginal mentorship resources.

Although the CIE has extensive experience in mentor training for multicultural situations, and many of the principles and practices of our university mentorship program apply to the high-school program, in the Aboriginal field, such programs are often founded in Aboriginal principles, for example, the grandfather teachings, and we had come to realize that our mentors need to be aware of these principles and understand the perspectives they offered on working with Aboriginal youth.

Additional funding will allow CIE to expand the program at Rideau High School by hiring more mentors and to develop a second workshop which will provide Aboriginally-based training for mentors and volunteers so that they will be better able to work with and support high-school students who participate in the mentoring program. Carleton University and the community benefit by having mentors and volunteers from mainstream schools and other Aboriginal organizations attend and materials developed which are based on the grandfather teachings and other Aboriginal organizing principles/teachings.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Additional funding will allow CIE to expand the program at Rideau High School by hiring more mentors and to develop a second workshop which will provide Aboriginally-based training for mentors and volunteers so that they will be better able to work with and support high-school students who participate in the mentoring program. Carleton University and the community benefit by having mentors and volunteers from mainstream schools and other Aboriginal organizations attend and materials developed which are based on the grandfather teachings and other Aboriginal organizing principles/teachings.
Impact: How does it Work

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

The mentors are role models and academic/cultural coaches who assist students with their coursework by offering learning strategies and practical advice; the mentors’ post-secondary experiences enable them to refer students to helpful resources and information as a bridge between high school and post-secondary or career goals. The positive relationship between mentor and student helps increase confidence, contributes to the achievement of goals, and fosters an understanding about learning and life challenges.
About You
About You
First Name

Jennifer

Last Name

Wolters

Confirm a user name that will be displayed publicly to identify your entry

Carleton University Centre for Initiatives in Education

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization
Name

Carleton University

Country

, ON

Please confirm that this project could benefit First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples

Yes

Twitter URL
Youtube URL
What categories best describe who your group or organization serves (check all that apply)

First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

What best describes your group or organization

University, Technical Institute or College, Non-profit organization.

How long have you, your group, or your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Innovation
Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

CIE Aboriginal mentors are role models and academic/cultural coaches who assist students with coursework by offering learning strategies and practical advice.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (the project is up and running and is starting to move forward)

Social Impact
Please tell us about the social impact of your idea or proect

• Share learning experiences and knowledge. The relationship between the students and mentors is reciprocal.
• Enhance and further develop cultural knowledge and understanding.
• Dispel confusion and false perceptions about post-secondary learning.
• Encourage students to consider different options after high school and motivate and guide them through the information that is available for post-secondary and/or career-oriented plans.
• Offer opportunities for post-secondary students to develop leadership, communication and solution-based skills in relation to others.
• Enable continual, and positive, role-modeling for Aboriginal youth.

Your Future Goal(s): Tell us what you hope to achieve with your idea or project in the next year

To position Aboriginal high-school students and mentors for continued success by developing leadership potential.

In 5 years, what will be different as a result of your idea/project?

We want to see an increase in the retention rate of Aboriginal students at the high schools which Carleton mentors are working, and increased understanding about the options available to students following high school. We also want to increase the number of mentors at the high schools and expand the program to the Wabano Centre where there is an active homework club for Aboriginal students. Finally, we wish for the high-school students who have been mentored to then give back to the community in a positive and meaningful way. One way in which this could be achieved is to track those students who have been mentored and if they attend Carleton, involve them in being mentors to the next group of Aboriginal high-school students.

Sustainability
Tell us about the people/ partnerships that are already involved and why they are important to your idea or project.

CACE aims to:
• Increase the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal students, faculty and staff;
• Support academic achievement by Aboriginal members of the Carleton community;
• Provide space on campus where Aboriginal students’ cultures, traditions and worldviews are represented and respected; and
• Work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities and departments and groups on campus to provide exceptional programs and support services for Aboriginal students, faculty and staff.

Mentors are working at the Odawa Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School, which offers a fully Aboriginal curriculum in a holistic learning environment. The program has recently expanded to Rideau High School which has indentified a high population of Aborignal students.

If there are other people/partners that you will reach out to tell us who they are and why they will be important to your idea or project.

Carleton University recognizes the historical and contemporary contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to the development of Canada. Carleton will take a leadership role in Aboriginal teaching and research. This includes reaching out to Aboriginal communities, welcoming Aboriginal students to campus, promoting research on Aboriginal affairs and opening our curriculum to the inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge. This will be an important opportunity for Carleton, not only regionally and nationally, but indeed with indigenous communities around the globe. Future prospective partners include the Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre, Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Minwaashin Lodge, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, and local secondary schools where a significant number of Aboriginal students are identified.

Describe the kinds of support you receive (other than money) or will need to support your idea or project (e.g.: donated, space, equipment and volunteers)

In-kind contributions from CIE (staff/faculty time ; equipment; space), volunteers from Aboriginal community and from Carleton who contribute to the training workshop.
Rideau High School has provided funds for lunch club at our request.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

Yes (answer the next two questions)

Comments

carolyn doyle's picture

Hi! This is an interesting project. I like that there are connections between two schools in different parts of Canada. Can you tell me more about how the two schools partnered with each other? What are some of the activities in the partnership to ensure ongoing learning? What makes this an innovative and unique mentorship project?

Hello Carolyn, and thanks for the questions.

At present our partnerships are with two Ottawa schools, Rideau High School and the Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School. The partnerships are between the Centre for Initiatives in Education/the Centre for Aborginal Culture and Education and each school, however we are looking at ways to encourage joint activities between the two schools, particularly through cultural activities such as drumming.

The question of ongoing learning is profound and at least two-pronged: in the area of ongoing academic learning, for Aboriginal students to continue towards high school completion and some form of post-secondary education, the learning experience has to be positive. Our mentors provide tutoring and classroom assistance, helping students to overcome learning hurdles and experience positive associations with their schoolwork. They are also role models as Aboriginal youth who have overcome similar difficulties, have graduated from high school, and have gone on to higher education. They are always ready to answer students' questions and provide assistance in researching ongoing educational opportunities.

In the area of lifelong learning, our mentors organize and/or participate in social and cultural activities which hopefully the students will carry on in some form throughout their lives: talking circles, dancing, drumming, regalia making, camping trips, rock climbing excursions, other physical activities,fund-raising, and more. They organize lunches in one of the schools, which encourages students to feel more comfortable about asking for information about post-secondary or for academic support,which in turn creates positive feelings around being at school.

This program is unique in Ottawa, and the level of training/debriefing (weekly sessions and full-day sessions at the start of each semester) is extensive. Because these are paid student positions, our mentors are able to dedicate considerable time and energy to mentoring activities, and are able to help support themselves while making this significant contribution to local youth. Our assisting teachers in each school report that the mentors make a significant contribution to programming and support.

I hope this helps to answer your questions, and would be pleased to elaborate on any aspect of the program.
Best regards