Posts By: First Nations Drum

WAG Presents First Retrospective of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories – on now until March 10, 2019

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories – on now until March 10, 2019


 

Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 14, 2018: Born in the Back River area north of Baker Lake, Nunavut, artist Mary Yuusipik Singaqti became well known for her wall-hangings and carvings. But Winnipeg Art Gallery Curator of Inuit Art, Dr. Darlene Coward Wight, was “blown away” to discover a collection of her coloured-pencil drawings. Some of these incredibly detailed pieces are featured in the new exhibition, Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories, which opened last weekend and runs until March 10, 2019.

A second exhibit, Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, opens at the WAG this Saturday, bringing together wall hangings by nine artists, most of whom are women. Nivinngajuliaat, or “wall hanging” in Inuktitut, includes work by Mary Yuusipik’s acclaimed mother, Jessie Uunaq (Oonark). The exhibition is guest curated by Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Curator of Inuit Art for the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections. Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake is on view from November 17, 2018 through spring 2019.

The two exhibitions connected by both family and land will be celebrated at a free opening for the public on Friday, November 30 (7-10pm), 2018 at the WAG.

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories is the first solo exhibition of the artist who was born in a remote inland region north of Baker Lake. It features 26 captivating drawings recently purchased by the WAG, as well as striking wall hangings and sculptures.

Yuusipik (1936-2017) belonged to the last generation of Inuit to experience the inland nomadic way of life that centred on fishing and hunting caribou. Her artistic motivation was to show her life, “I want the younger generation to know about me, how we used to live [and] how life was before.”

Featured artists include Dr. Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, Naomi Ityi, Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuryuk, Miriam Qiyuk, Jimmy Taipanak, Winnie Tatya, Marion Tuu’luuq, and Jessie Uunaq (Oonark).

The public is invited to celebrate the launch of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories and Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, along with three more new WAG exhibitions, on Friday, November 30 from 7:00 to 10:00pm.

The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and houses over 27,000 artworks spanning centuries, media, and cultures, including the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.

 

Discover the Iniskim Centre at Mount Royal University


 

Mount Royal University’s Iniskim Centre offers programs and services to increase the engagement and success of Indigenous students while raising awareness of Indigenous peoples and cultures.  Mount Royal University is located on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot people, the Niitsitapi. The centre recognizes and respects the diversity of all Indigenous peoples of Canada. The centre also increases the awareness of distinct Indigenous cultures, history and protocols across the University.

With any program a student chooses, the Iniskim Centre will be there to help them prepare to succeed in their academic pursuits and future career. The Inskim Centre is here to encourage students throughout their program of study, providing resources such as academic and cultural support, academic advising, writing support, and scholarship information.

 

ABORIGINAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION PROGRAM

This program is a comprehensive support system designed to support students as they work towards a career in science and technology.

 

ABORIGINAL EDUCATION PROGRAM

Preparing students to pursue a postsecondary education with three levels of study providing upgrading in Math, English, Native Studies, and Science.

 

INDIGENOUS STUDENT HOUSING

A supportive community of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who live on campus. There are single units and family units at affordable rates. All students in the program gather for monthly social events.

 

MEDICINE TRAIL (NAATO’OHSOKOY) PROGRAM

Students can visit a coordinator and be a part of small and large group cultural teachings. They may also see a coordinator for support and guidance. The Iniskim Centre offers students a place and the resources to smudge each morning and hosts various ceremonies throughout the year.

A coordinator will also support professors by connecting them with wisdom keepers and elders.

 

STUDENT SUCCESS PROGRAM

Students have access to many of the resources provided by the centre such as, academic support, peer mentorship, counseling services, financial information, instructor office hours and tutorials. As a mentor, a student success coordinator will work with students to help ensure success.

To learn more about the Iniskim Centre and all supports available for Indigenous students, visit mru.ca/IndigenousMRU

Osoyoos Chief Inducted into Business Hall of Fame

From left to right: Claude Lamoureux O.C., FCIA, Chief Clarence Louie O.C., Annette Verschuren O.C., Stephen J. R. Smith. Photo credit: Tom Sandler (CNW Group/JA Canada)


 

Clarence Louie, Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band will be inducted into the 2019 Canadian Business Hall of Fame, which recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of Canada’s most distinguished business leaders. Also being inducted are: Claude Lamoureux, retired president & CEO, Ontario Teachers’ Plan, Stephen J.R. Smith, chairman & CEO of First National Financial, and Annette Verschuren, chair & CEO of NRStor Inc.

Mr. David Denison, Chancellor of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame says the 2019 Class of Companion Inductees is a very special group.

“The Canadian Business Hall of Fame is honoured to recognize their enduring contributions to the business community and our country,” said Denison.  “On June 19, 2019, we will have the great privilege of highlighting their excellence in business leadership, outstanding professional achievements and dedication to bettering Canada’s social fabric.”

Clarence Louie who’ll be the first Indigenous person inducted into the Business Hall of Fame was born in 1960 and raised on the Osoyoos Indian Band by his mother. Due to high unemployment, many adults on his First Nation community had to work as transient labourers on fruit orchards in nearby Washington State. Louie was forced to be self-sufficient during his childhood years. At age 19, he left BC and enrolled at the First Nations University in Regina. He then studied native studies at the University of Lethbridge. After receiving his degree, he returned to home to Osoyoos.

At 24 years of age, Louie was elected as chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band. Louie has won every election but one since 1985. The band has 460 members, and controls 32,000 acres of land. He started the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation (OIBDC) in 1988.Through the corporation’s efforts, the previously impoverished band started or acquired nine businesses, including tourism, construction, and recreation companies. The band now employs 700 people including non-First Nations. A high-profile business started by the OIBDC during Louie’s tenure is Nk’Mip Cellars, the first aboriginal-owned winery in North America.

In 2003, Louie was chosen by the U.S. Department of State as one of six Canadian First Nations leaders to review economic development in American Indian communities. In 2004, he received the Order of British Columbia. Louie has also been involved in land claim settlements with the provincial government.

The Canadian Business Hall of Fame was established by JA Canada in 1979 to honour Canada’s preeminent business leaders for their professional and philanthropic achievements.

This year’s Class of Companions will formally be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame at the 2019 Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 19, 2019. Proceeds from this gala help JA Canada meet the growing demand for financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship programs for Canadian students, which are essential to youth’s future success

 

Space, full of mysteries, still slowly being understood

These plots show the signals of gravitational waves detected by the twin LIGO observatories at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The signals came from two merging black holes, each about 30 times the mass of our sun, lying 1.3 billion light-years away.
Photo by Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

Corey M. Gray is a Siksika-goo-wan (Blackfoot) who grew up in Southern California. He earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees – one in physics and the other in applied mathematics – from Humboldt State University. Today he is an astronomer at Caltech’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO Hanford Observatory), one of only two LIGO facilities in the U.S.

Built in the arid Benton County, Washington State, the astronomical tool is an eight kilometer long L-shaped structure. Shortly after graduation, Gray was hired to install hardware for the first LIGO detector. He learned to operate the device and collect data on cosmic gravitational waves moving at the speed of light. “Black holes will sometimes merge and create gravitational waves just before merging and then go quiet,” says Gray, who eventually became the lead operator for the Hanford Observatory LIGO.

LIGO collects data on the merging of black holes from long ago and anything else that may make gravitational movement in outer space. Gravitational waves are recorded by using mirrors, laser beams, and hardware installed by Cory’s team. Instruments required frequent modification as this was experimental and the science was new. The second LIGO in Louisiana is necessary because LIGO requires two widely separated detectors operated in unison to rule out false signals.

The machine made its first detection of a real event on September 14, 2015, coincidentally on the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. This detection greatly supports Einstein’s work. From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves as part of the theory of general relativity. In Einstein’s theory, space and time are aspects of a single measurable reality called space-time. Matter and energy are two expressions of a single material. We can think of space-time as a fabric; the presence of large amounts of mass or energy distorts space-time – in essence causing the fabric to ‘warp’ – and we observe this warpage as gravity. Freely falling objects – whether soccer balls, satellites, or beams of starlight – simply follow the most direct path in this curved space-time. When large masses move suddenly, some of this space-time curvature ripples outward, spreading in much the way as ripples on the surface of an agitated pond. When two dense objects such as neutron stars or black holes orbit each other, space-time is stirred by their motion and gravitational energy ripples throughout the universe.”

Asked how LIGO’s detections and recordings of the gravitational waves help us understand the universe, Gray tells First Nations Drum that a good chunk of astronomy can be explained by Newton’s law of gravity (for example how planets move around the Sun). “We can get information from stars by looking at them in telescopes, radio dishes, etc.  But this is only a small part of our universe. Our universe is incomprehensibly large, and in this large universe there are big objects (such as black holes) and strong-gravity events that happen quite often,” said Gray. “Gravitational waves come from these types of events, and we can learn something completely new and different with gravitational wave signals.”

Gray says that before LIGO’s detections “all we had to work with when we looked up at the stars was light. Light is something which happens from atomic reactions going on in objects like stars. Gravitational waves are generated by the actual objects. So it is like we have a completely new sense to get information about our universe. Gravitational wave astronomy has barely just started. We have ideas of new things we will detect, but the real exciting thing is we will definitely get some completely big surprises, too—something we had no idea about. And with all of this we get to learn more about the universe around us.”

The word on LIGO findings spread quickly because they were published translated into multiple languages, including the Siksika language. General Theory of Relativity translates to: bisaatsinsiimaan; Gravitational waves translates to: Abuduuxbiisiiy o? bigimskAAsts (meaning “things that stick together, ripples in the water”); Scientist translates to: mugagyabiguwAx (meaning “all encompassing smart person”); Black Holes translate to: sigooxgiya; Universe translates to: spuu?ts.

Many more translated words, pondered by the mind of Gray’s mother Sharon Yellow Fly, is found in official LIGO documents and online.

 

Gary O’Neal: An American Warrior in the Highest Sioux Tradition ‘Guerrero Americano’ Part 1

Gary O’Neal

Gary O’Neal


Gary O’Neal was shot, stabbed, and riddled with shrapnel while serving his country over four decades in nations spanning the globe from Vietnam to Nicaragua. He hasn’t been awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat because he’s refused to accept it. “In my view the Purple Heart is an award in the enemy’s favor,” said O’Neal, who considers the medal signifying he “had been had by the enemy.”

Retired U.S. Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Gary O’Neal spoke with First Nations Drum about his extraordinary life as one of his country’s most distinguished warriors. As a child growing up in the “Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota area,” O’Neal did not fit in well. He didn’t like school and desired only to be outside tracking, ranching, and horseback riding. “I was always doing things. I was a daredevil,” said O’Neal. “There wasn’t too much I wouldn’t do.”

O’Neal participated in 4H, young rodeo, loved sports, and excelled at running. “I liked the country life. I like cowboying,” said O’Neal. “I wasn’t big on cities.” His Irish-American father was a rancher and farmer who taught O’Neal mechanics at a young age. His paternal grandfather taught him Blacksmith skills and how to care for and handle horses – from shoeing to riding. “When I was 13, I was doing a man’s job on the ranch,” said O’Neal. “I was like a ranch foreman.”

O’Neal’s mother was Sioux First Nation. Growing up mixed race presented challenges for a young O’Neal. “Whites didn’t want anything to do with me because I was Indian, and Indians didn’t want nothing to do with me because I was white,” said O’Neal. “I didn’t like nobody.”

Though O’Neal didn’t grow up on Reservation, he was taught his Native culture when visiting his maternal grandparents living on Reservation.

O’Neal’s lineage has warrior ancestors on both his mother and father’s side, but culturally and spiritually he has always been driven toward his mother’s First Nation heritage. “I’ve had Chiefs from other tribes that would drag me out and show me things because they knew the mixed blood I had and the way my demeanor was on the Native side,” said O’Neal.

Spirituality is central to Native lore, explained O’Neal. “You never did anything that you didn’t give back. You didn’t pick up a stone without replacing it with something.” Prior to every hunt, there was prayer, dance, and a feast. The returning hunting party was greeted by a “thank you ceremony, prayer to the Creator thanking Him for food, and thanking animals for supplying us with food and warmth of clothes made from them. Everything was in prayer,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal successfully completed the Sundance – a four day and four night dance event purifying the mind, body, and spirit through medicines and sweat lodges. The Sioux warrior tradition is to protect children and secure their future by also protecting the elderly who pass down knowledge.

“You dance all day in the sun without food or water,” said O’Neal. “The warriors dance for the people, and it’s all in prayer. It’s so the people don’t have to suffer. They don’t have to go through pain. They don’t have to go through hunger. The warriors take that away from them.”

O’Neal’s Vision Quest took place on the same hallowed ground as done by Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Fool’s Crow, and Black Elk – the historic and legendary warrior Chiefs of the Sioux Nation. O’Neal said he took the “old school” Native cultural teachings, which included the Native American warrior aspect, and put that together with the “warrior aspect of the Irish, because the Irish always fought. The English always used the Irish,” said O’Neal.

His father taught O’Neal how to handle guns and he often played with his dad’s rifles. “At 5, I had my first 410 shotgun and a .22 pump rifle. They’d give me rounds to go out and I’d get a squirrel or a rabbit.” said O’Neal. “When I brought it back, that’s what we ate.”

O’Neal’s warrior heritage on his father’s side of the family can be traced back to the home country and “Irish Rangers” in the time of William Wallace days in the late 13th century. O’Neal said his great grandfathers at the fourth and fifth generation back served in the Frontier Rangers – the oldest U.S. military unit. “My fifth great grandfather and his two sons signed the Oath of Allegiance and fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812,” said O’Neal. “So I’ve had a relation on my dad’s side all the way down to me serve in different wars that America has been in since the creation of America in 1776.”

O’Neal is a founding member of the Pentagon’s first antiterrorist team, was a member of the Golden Knights Parachuting Team, and was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. He has authored a book – American Warrior: The True Story of a Legendary Ranger. “When I was in Central America, South America, working down there we had our enemies we was fighting,” began O’Neal. “They gave me that name, ‘Guerrero Americano,’ which means, ‘American Warrior.’ So that’s where I got that nickname. It kind of stuck with me.”

To be continued.

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube

Dana Claxton, Headdress–Jeneen, 2018

Dana Claxton, Headdress–Jeneen, 2018

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube, the first-ever survey of the work of the provocative Vancouver-based Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) artist Dana Claxton, which runs until February 3, 2019. Photography, film, video and performance documentation trace nearly 30 years of Claxton’s career and her investigations into Indigenous identity, beauty, gender and the body.

Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, says as a prolific multidisciplinary artist, Dana Claxton has been an important voice for reclaiming narratives around Indigenous culture through striking critique of stereotypes and ideologies.

“From the Indigenous portraits captured to stunning effect in her ‘fireboxes’, to the dramatic video installations that retell the stories of her Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) people, Dana’s emotive works compel audiences to re-examine their understanding of Indigenous art.”

Merging Lakota traditions with so-called Western influences, while utilizing a powerful “mix, meld and mash” approach, Claxton addresses the oppressive legacies of colonialism by critiquing representations of Indigenous people that circulate in art, literature and popular culture. Such potent criticism can be found in early video works such as I Want to Know Why (1994), a searing protest against the depredations of colonialism, and The Red Paper (1996), which parodies Shakespearian drama while providing an Indigenous view of the European invasion of the Americas.

Other early video installations that brought Claxton widespread attention are also represented in the exhibition, including the mixed media installation Buffalo Bone China (1997), which looks at the mass slaughter of the buffalo and the disastrous consequences it held for the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. These works are accompanied by multi-channel video projections, including Rattle (2003), which eschews narrative convention, taking the form of a visual prayer with its mirrored imagery and hypnotic audio comprising traditional Lakota rattles (instruments of healing) along with synthesizers and peyote singing.

Claxton’s widely acclaimed photographic works play a prominent role in the exhibition. These include The Mustang Suite (2008), five staged photographic portraits of a contemporary Indigenous family, with each member appearing with their own form of “mustang”—be it a car, bicycle or pony. Also featured are the AIM photographs (2010), Claxton’s images of declassified FBI documents on the American Indian Movement.

Complex questions regarding beauty, cultural appropriation and the construction of identity are prevalent in Claxton’s photography project Indian Candy (2013), a series of aluminum-mounted chromogenic prints, which includes Tonto Prayer, a work that portrays Jay Silverheels, the Mohawk actor from the 1950s television series The Lone Ranger. Claxton further confronts such questions in her brilliant “firebox” or illuminated lightbox works depicting Indigenous women as seen in Headdress (2015) and Cultural Belongings (2016).

“I am in awe and grateful that the Vancouver Art Gallery and Grant Arnold have selected to curate this survey exhibition spanning twenty-eight years. I am elated to be sharing my video installations, photography and performance with a Vancouver audience. Combined the work speaks of a Lakota sensibility of time/place/space/spirit and the complexities of our shared socio-political-cultural realities,” says Dana Claxton.

 

Aspiring Artist Kylie Fineday

 

After finishing high school in her home province of Saskatchewan, Kylie Fineday joined the workforce but never gave up on her dream of becoming an artist. As an Art Studio major in the University of Lethbridge Bachelor of Fine Arts program, she’s pursuing her aspirations.

“The great thing about uLethbridge is the classes are small enough that everyone gets a lot of time with their professors,” says Kylie. “Plus, having my own studio space and access to the incredible art facilities has made me really enjoy pursuing studio art.”

Kylie says her uLethbridge experience has not only supported her artistic development, but has introduced her to ways of working in the arts outside of the studio. This past year she completed an internship with the uLethbridge Art Gallery, where she curated an exhibition including works by current students and pieces from the gallery’s collection.

“It’s been an amazing experience getting to see what is in the University art collection and learning about everything that goes into creating an exhibition.”

That experience helped Kylie land a summer job at the gallery where she worked as a curatorial assistant, giving her even more valuable hands-on experience. Recently, the uLethbridge Art Gallery received a bequest of more than 1,000 artworks from the estate of Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess (DFA ‘04), including works by international artists like Henri Matisse, renowned Canadians like Emily Carr and more than 400 pieces by Indigenous artists. Kylie helped assess the value of the collection, catalogued the new acquisitions and installed a portion of the exhibition showcasing the collection in the main gallery space.

“It’s such an impressive gift and I think it’s great to see a lot of Indigenous representation alongside the big Canadian and international names. It’s been a great learning opportunity, and it’s really exciting to be involved with something so big for the University community.”

After finishing at uLethbridge, Kylie plans to explore artist residencies where she can continue her practice and look for more opportunities to work in galleries or museums.

 

2018 Fulmer Awards in First Nations Art

McLennan emerging artist- Kelsey Hall

McLennan emerging artist- Kelsey Hall

 

2018 Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art recipients

VANCOUVER – The BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF) honoured the six recipients of the Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art at the 12th annual Awards in First Nations Art celebration at the Roundhouse, Vancouver, on November 20th.  The recipients were celebrated for their artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art.

“These awards honour the very best in First Nations art in the province and help celebrate the inheritance of a rich cultural tradition,” said BCAF chair Scott McIntyre. “The 2018 recipients join the 68 artists the foundation has had the privilege to honour over the past twelve years,” he added.

The 2018 Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art recipients, chosen by an independent jury, are:

Richard Adkins – Haida Nation  – Richard Adkins grew up in a traditional Haida family, one where he had the opportunity to learn history and tradition.  . He has carried that love of art and tradition over many decades, beginning with studying Northwest Coast Art with Freda Diesing. As an established mixed media artist, Rick has created masterful pieces in sculpture, jewelry and drawing. Rick has garnered national recognition for his design, and his work has been exhibited at art galleries around the country.

Bradley Hunt  – Heiltsuk artist from Waglisla (Bella Bella) He is a member of the Eagle Clan, through his late mother Annie Hunt.  One of Bradley’s core philosophies as a teacher is that he believes that the student must learn the principles of the traditional art form before they try to push the boundaries and create their own personal style.  Bradley continues to carve every day with his two sons in Sechelt BC on the Sunshine Coast.

Nakkita Trimble –  has been instrumental in the re-claiming of Nisga’a tattooing methods of skin stitching and hand poking –– techniques her ancestors would have used. Nakkita’s tattoos connect generations, helping individuals reconnect with their identity while developing pride and curiosity for their family histories, stories and traditions. Her solo-exhibit at the Nisga’a Museum in Grenville, B.C. featured the oral history of Nisga’a Tattooing prior to contact. The oral history was passed down from Freda Morven and the Council of Elders comprised of some Matriarchs and Chiefs of the four main villages in the Nass Valley.

Carrielynn Victor – Carrielynn Victor, Xémontélót Carrielynn Victor, (Stó:lo, Coast Salish & Mixed Western European Heritage) from the community, XwChí:yóm (Cheam), is a gifted artist. Her paintings and murals reflect her belief of her role as a defender of the earth. An artist, fisher, plant harvester and medicines practitioner, Carrielynn’s work fuses ancestral knowledge and a deep connection to her culture with contemporary techniques and styles.

Henry Speck Jr – master carver received the Lifetime Achievement Award,  A self-taught artist of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation of the Tlawitsis Tribe, Hank has close to sixty years of carving experience.  Many of his pieces are interpretations of the large bird masks used in the hamatsa ritual and the Atlikim dance series. Given the scale and intricacy of his work, Hank produces only a few major pieces each year and many of these are for cultural use. Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) chiefs commission his gigantic raven and Hok Hok masks, stretching to six and seven feet in length, for use in potlatch ceremonies.

The Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art are made possible through the generous support of the Vancouver-based Fulmer Foundation.

Fulmer Award 2018 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award: Kelsey Hall

Kelsey Hall (KC) of Bella Bella, in Heiltsuk Nation territory on the central coast of BC, belongs to the House of Wakas and descends from noted Heiltsuk artist Chief Robert Bell. His artistic practice stems from handwriting, lettering and graffiti skills developed in high school. Mentored and influenced by many BC First Nations artists, KC has collaborated with local artists on many projects, including murals for Granville Island’s newest public space. He has been commissioned for art that demonstrate his knowledge of traditional First Nations craft, creating a mural for the UBC Museum of Anthropology, and co-designing a Spirit Blanket that was presented to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Bella Bella. KC’s art is modernist with traditional roots. His work arises out of the tension between ancient First Nations skills and traditions and the urban digital world he now inhabits. The skill with which KC navigates this rift shows in his use of formline to create habitat for traditional figures with a distinctively modern/Manga twist.

 

Breaking the Poverty Cycle: The Economic Impact of Post-Secondary Education

Ruby Barclay speaks out about the value of post-secondary education| Photo By Vancouver Island University

Ruby Barclay speaks out about the value of post-secondary education| Photo By Vancouver Island University

 

After a year of planning, Ruby Barclay arrived at Vancouver Island University (VIU) Student Residences from her hometown with two Rubbermaid totes and a duffel bag.

“That was it – that was my entire life,” she remembers. “The first day was really, really tough.”

While most youth transitioning to post-secondary rely on parents and extended family for support with school, living expenses and advice, Barclay had just aged out of BC’s youth in care system. Unlike many of her peers, Barclay did not have a parent to make the journey with her, take her to Costco to get supplies, or help instill the confidence she needed to succeed in her studies.

“I had to figure out and plan all these things on my own,” she says. “Getting my acceptance letter from VIU is still one of the best days of my life. For me, it meant there was a chance to have a future beyond 19, and that someone believed I could do it. It was an opportunity to access education that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to – VIU was one of the only institutions waiving tuition fees for those with lived experience in the care system.”

Fast forward to today, and Barclay, who finished the requirements for her Child and Youth Care degree last spring, has found work she’s passionate about – supporting others who have experienced the government care system as Youth Advisory Council Coordinator with the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre.

A new report commissioned by VIU analyzing the economic impact and return on investment of education at the University found that VIU contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the local and provincial community by $23.1 million due to the benefits of post-secondary education. Students earn more because of the skills and qualifications they acquire at VIU, are less likely to require income assistance or commit crimes for this reason, and are statistically more likely to develop good health habits, states the report.

In 2016-17, the 67 students who were supported by VIU through the Post Care Tuition Waiver Program will generate $2 million in benefits to the provincial government throughout their working lives. This means that not only does the program create opportunities for youth to better their lives, but it also has long-term benefits for all.

While at VIU, Barclay discovered, partly through her own experiences, that although the University paid tuition expenses for anyone who has spent time in the care system, there were no supports built in to meet the unique needs of these students and ensure they were successful once they got here. She developed a practicum placement that later turned into a paid position at VIU – Peer Support Navigator for the Post-Care Tuition Waiver Program.

“As the first institution in BC to adopt such a program, VIU had to learn our role in supporting former youth in care to succeed,” explains William Litchfield, Associate Vice-President of University Relations. “Despite still being a student, Ruby’s role was largely about teaching us how to best support students, and creating a sense of community and connectedness between VIU and tuition waiver students.”

For Barclay, her education breaks the cycle of poverty for her own family and future generations. But that’s not the only thing post-secondary did for her – it also helped her find her family.

“The biggest benefit of going to VIU, aside from education, was the community,” she says. “I didn’t grow up believing that I could be more than someone with lived experience in care until I found a community that believed I could.”

 

The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) at University of Manitoba

Photo Courtesy of Marketing Communications Office at the University of Manitoba

The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) is a friendly, warm and supportive community of students and staff that was originally developed to bring about a greater representation of Indigenous students (First Nation, Metis and Inuit) within the engineering profession. One ENGAP student shares his perspective:

“ENGAP is a welcoming family that focus’ 100% of their time and energy to promote student emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. ENGAP is my second home lead by a selfless director that encourages his staff with their amazing attitudes to promote our success. With the great people that run this program I am a proud student of Canada’s most successful Indigenous Engineering Access Program in Canada.”

– Chanse Kornik—Electrical Engineering

The success of ENGAP can be attributed to the wide array of supports it offers students, from academic, personal and financial to employment and community connections. If Indigenous students do not have the university entrance requirements, the ENGAP program offers free upgrading classes in math, physics, chemistry and computer science to help the students meet the highly competitive demands of engineering. In addition, ENGAP offers all of their students free tutoring, as well as the opportunity for ‘A’ students to become paid tutors. ENGAP then continues to support each student throughout their engineering degree, welcomes new Indigenous students at any stage of their degree and opens the door to all Direct Entry Indigenous students who are ready to take university credit courses.

Nicole Lambert, a Metis electrical engineering student shares her experience “ENGAP is a place where I’m always comfortable and surrounded by friends. It’s such a good resource for school and always welcoming.”

Our Indigenous engineering students have great career opportunities as they are sought after and hired for summer jobs, as well as after graduation.  In addition, when students are part of an engineering department they can experience term work positions through the Co-op program. For example, Nicole worked at Shell Canada for an 8 month Co-op work term.  We are proud to say she will be graduating with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering this coming spring!

ENGAP’s Application forms for the 2019/2020 Academic school year are due: MAY 1st.  Be sure to include all required documentation. Application forms can be found on our website.

For more information, please call (204) 474-9872 or toll free in Manitoba 1 (800) 432-1960 ext. 9872 or visit our website at www.engap.com