Crowns contribute $1 million to Aboriginal success plan
Saskatchewan’s Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) signed an agreement with the U of S Dec. 5 to provide programs and services designed to help Aboriginal students achieve success on campus. CIC will contribute $1 million over five years to the University’s new Aboriginal Student Achievement Program.
The program includes a new recruitment strategy that will provide ongoing support during each student’s initial time on campus and beyond. The support programs will range from an expanded mentorship program and tutoring, to life skills workshops focusing on time management and goal setting. The program also includes an expanded cultural component, with additional counselling from Aboriginal elders and more activities like the annual powwow in the Bowl.
Associate Vice-President of Student Services David Hannah said, “We are delighted that CIC is making such a significant investment in the future. By addressing the academic, social and cultural challenges of post-secondary education, this program will increase Aboriginal student engagement in a wider range of colleges, increase their retention and graduation rate, and lead to greater employment opportunities in the future.”
Crown Management Board Minister Pat Atkinson said, “It is vitally important that we encourage more First Nations and Métis people to enrol in university, and that they have support to succeed and attain a degree. A university education will lead to employment opportunities in our Crown corporations and other organizations in Saskatchewan, which will benefit First Nations and Métis people, their communities, and our province as a whole.”
CIC’s contribution to the program is part of a $20-million investment announced in 2003 to create more opportunities for youth and Aboriginal participation in Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations. Statistics show that half of the current Crown employees, or about 5,000 people, will retire by 2017. The Crowns will need to replace them with educated, skilled workers.
Several of the services and initiatives of the Aboriginal Student Achievement Program have been provided in a limited capacity by the University’s Aboriginal Student Centre since it was opened in 1991. CIC’s financial contribution will help expand, enhance and focus those programs.
“We welcome CIC as a valuable partner in creating opportunities for Aboriginal students and Aboriginal communities,” U of S Special Advisor on Aboriginal Initiatives George Lafond said. “By working together with CIC and our Aboriginal partners, we are committed to enhancing the student experience at the U of S.”
The U of S has developed a long-term plan for the Aboriginal Student Achievement Program, including the construction of a new Aboriginal Centre. Additional partners are still being sought to help reach these goals.