Aboriginal Student Links

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a winner.

Aboriginal Student Links

Canada
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Historically, programs and services offered to First Nations, Inuit & Metis(FNIM) people in justice, health and education have for the most part been short term, one off programs that don't address the lifelong learning necessary for youth to develop the skills to be successful. In the case of education, current systems don't address the unique cultural barriers many students face on their journey to post-secondary. Throughout history, Aboriginal ways of knowing have been passed down from one generation to the next. As a result of systemic and historical events, many students don't receive sustained mentoring and positive role modeling to guide them through their early educational journey. Having worked in social services, justice and education over the past 20 years, I have been involved in many successful initiatives with youth. The biggest barrier to continued success for these youth has been the lack of ongoing support to achieve their goals. We build them up, tell them they can be successful and then often, leave them to environments that are unable to continue to walk with them on their journey. Cultural relevance, mentorship, positive role modeling and leadership development have all proven to be successful approaches in building self-esteem and improving educational attainment rates for Aboriginal youth. Unfortunately, we have been unable deliver comprehensive programs that provide all these components of lifelong learning into one sustainable model. Over the past three years, Nipissing University's Office of Aboriginal Initiatives in partnership with 2 local school boards, has developed an model that meets this challenge. Our model creates opportunities for education systems to teach education systems, communities to teach communities and students to teach students. The Aboriginal Student links program (ASL) creates leadership capacity amongst secondary students, sends those students to mentor and lead intermediate students, and in turn, intermediate students mentor and lead junior level students allowing for seamless transition into post secondary. Aboriginal Student Links university interns visit 6 North Bay area secondary schools weekly and meet with students delivering program material geared towards leadership, cultural, personal and career development. ASL interns facilitate weekly sessions grounded in curriculum that focuses on cultural and leadership development. The course material and activities have been aligned with the Ministry of Educations Peer Leadership and Support course, and the GWL Co-op course, which allows participating students to receive secondary credits towards their diploma.
Included in the program are 2 Cultural Leadership Camps, a 2 day conference, pre & post family events, 2 sport tournaments and a awards ceremony. By continuing to engage students and families on a regular basis throughout their secondary years, on into their post secondary education, participating students develop a strong sense of cultural pride; improved attendance and graduation rates, and are more actively participating in school without sacrificing their cultural identity. Students are developing a strong sense of belonging within the education system. ASL students that attend NU are recruited and returned to their home school as ASL interns. ASL began in 2009 and was piloted in one school.Today, we are in 6 schools with 16 Interns, ASL is delivering a program that awards credits towards two different secondary courses and is now reaching down to grade 7&8 students being mentored by the high school students of the program. Another recently introduced component of the program is Community Service Learning (CSL).CSL students from Nipissing Universitys' other programs are now acting as tutors within ASL. This will create cross-cultural learning opportunities for both the Aboriginal students, as well as those placement students that will eventually teach in the schools around the country. SEE IMAGES TAB

About You
About You
First Name

Doug

Last Name

Dokis

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

Doug Dokis

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization
Name

Nipissing University"Aboriginal Student Links"

Country

, ON

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

Yes

Twitter URL
Facebook 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

Elementary or Secondary school, University, Technical Institute or College.

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

1‐5 years

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

ASL creates safe, trusting environments for FNIM students to succeed, & creates opportunities to excel, culturally, academically, and personally in life.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Expanding (it has been running for a while, has grown, you know it is making a difference and now you want to expand)

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

It is well document that educational attainment levels are key indicators of social and economic well-being. The ASL program focuses on instilling cultural pride, mentorship, leadership development and academic success amongst participating students. Students are surrounded by positive learning experiences throughout their K-12 years that are personally rewarding, as a result of their own achievements academically, and because they are able to share their learning with the younger students. Key elements of the program include civic and community responsibilities for the students to engage in activities like volunteering at the food bank, helping at community cultural events and going to First Nation communities to work on local initiatives. Students become part of something special.

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

Interdisciplinary studies program in 6 high schools with 4 university track credits and a Aboriginal leadership minor at NU

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

We are seeing results from the program, students around North Bay identify themselves with the program, attendance rates are up and students are beginning to find their way to the university. We believe strongly, and recent data demonstrates that we will see improved secondary graduation rates, and a stronger group of community leaders that are inspired to make change. They are already organizing community events on their own. We will see a more integrated approach to learning from K-12, on into the post-secondary years that celebrates FNIM culture within the 2 school boards. The ASL program will grow and continue to provide, and create cross-cultural opportunities where FNIM students can participate, and be successful in the education system without sacrificing their cultural identity.

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

The ASL program is currently partnered with the Near North & Nipissing Parry Sound District School boards. Success of the program would not be possible without the support and participation of the local school authorities. Included in these partnerships is Dokis First Nation who provides access to their community for the cultural land based teachings component of the program during the spring and fall cultural/leadership camps. The Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities is our major funder. We hope to continue with this in the coming years.

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.

The ASL program has received a great deal of interest from a number of communities and organizations around the country. We hope that a foundation or corporation will assist us as we grow the program towards a Aboriginal Leadership minor at NU. A recent development to the program has been the approval and inclusion of ASL into the NearNorth District School Boards Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum (IDP30) for Sept 2012. This will allow students to bundle 5 credits towards their HS diploma .

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)

Nipissing University provides office space, training facilities and coop placements for high school students. As we grow out into other schools and communities, volunteers will play a greater role in some of our activities. All of our camp equipment, tents, heaters, tarps and other materials have about a 4 year lifespan. This equipment will need to be replaced next year.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

Yes (answer the next two questions)