March 12, 2010
I read with interest the article on page 3 of the most recent issue of OCN. It is fantastic to see increasing recognition at the higher administration levels of the importance of increasing Aboriginal engagement at the University of Saskatchewan.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that our office has already been addressing increased Aboriginal engagement for over two years in the same manner Brett Fairbairn has highlighted in the article. To address low completion rates, particularly in northern Saskatchewan where many of the students are of Aboriginal ancestry, our office is building solid relationships with schools and communities through multiple, sustained initiatives, the benefits of which we are already starting to see in the form of increasing numbers of students pursuing higher education.
Our target group is middle to high school years, with an eye to putting the possibility of post-secondary education on their radar before it is too late to get the courses that they need. We accomplish this by providing northern students with hands-on experiences, visits to engineering- and science-related departments across campus, school/community visits by university students and industry experts, and specific programming such as the myWISEmentor and Northern Science Ambassadors programs.
We also provide information to guidance counselors, as well as support for teachers in the form of professional development, because informed, engaged and enriched school staff can impact many kids. The success of our programs would not be possible without the support and enthusiasm of our partners across campus, including the Colleges of Medicine, Kinesiology, Arts and Science, and of course Engineering, as well as research and outreach organizations such as the Canadian Light Source, Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Engineers Without Borders, and Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin amongst others.
I belong to the Aboriginal Student Advisors group here at the University of Saskatchewan, a group that encompasses many departments and colleges across campus. While technically I am not an “advisor” at the university level (although our office does administer some transition programs), I like to touch base with what’s happening in the area of Aboriginal engagement on campus as it is relevant to future students, who I do connect with in an advisory capacity. Many of these staff and faculty are very passionate about Aboriginal engagement, and I would like to suggest that OCN consider an article, or even perhaps a series of articles similar to the Green Campus series that highlights some of the ways the U of S is breaking new ground in Aboriginal outreach and engagement to further solidify the University of Saskatchewan’s leadership profile in this area on a Canada-wide and international scope.
Office of Outreach and Transition Programs
College of Engineering