Ed. equity focuses on Aboriginal initiatives
By Hilary Bell
In his annual report to University Council on U of S progress on education equity, President Peter MacKinnon said the top priority goes to initiatives for Aboriginal students.
MacKinnon devoted a major portion of his June 17 report to programs the U of S has set out in an effort to become the top Canadian university in all aspects of Aboriginal education over the next five years. The report also outlines all U of S efforts to advance education equity for individuals with disabilities and minorities.
The president’s report stated some of the new initiatives in the University’s recently adopted Integrated Plan will support education equity for Aboriginal students, including development of Aboriginal student space on campus. Funds for the development will come from NOVA Chemicals. The report said other goals include special rooms for Aboriginal classes and meetings, adequate representation in forms such as Aboriginal art, and an Aboriginal daycare.
Efforts to increase participation rates in colleges with low Aboriginal enrolment are also underway, it said. Since a large portion of Aboriginal students are in the Colleges of Arts and Science, Education and Law, programs are being launched to increase enrolment in science, math and business. The Cameco Access Program for Engineering and Science (CAPES), discontinued in 2002, has been re-introduced. A math and science preparation program is also available for high school students. And the College of Commerce has ongoing initiatives to attract and retain undergraduate students.
The document also calls for continued support of the Aboriginal Students’ Centre (ASC) where students have access to tools for a positive educational experience. The ASC is an integral part of such events as the Aboriginal First Year Experience Program, Aboriginal Awareness Week, Experience-US! and Aboriginal Student Orientation.
The report also notes growth in Aboriginal employment at the U of S – rising to 112 employees today, up from 91 one year ago. The latest figure represents 2.82 per cent of all employees.
George Lafond, Special Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Initiatives, said it is important “to build trust and honour with Aboriginal peoples. The University is doing a fantastic job by successfully building credibility with the First Nations and Métis community.”
Other goals outlined in the report include increasing the number of international students enrolled at the U of S, and doubling international activities over the next five years.
Disability Services for Students (DSS) continues to prove successful, the report said, with the Exam Accommodation Plan showing a 27-per-cent increase in usage over the past year.