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Indigenous students get custom curriculum thanks to new grant

Funding will help bridge the gap between high school and post secondary

Students study in the Aboriginal Gathering Space. Photo by Mathilda de Villiers.
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Reported by Shabnam Jessa

A $240,000 grant to create a custom curriculum for Indigenous students will set a goal of giving them the skills they need to transition to post-secondary education at Langara.

The grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada will be tailored to help Indigenous students, who currently don’t qualify for post secondary education in B.C. to improve their English and math skills.

Rick Ouellet, director of the Aboriginal education services at Langara said there are lots of other programs out there but the distinctive feature of the grant is to fund Indigenous learners to learn in a way that resonates with them.

“Students might learn geometry through blanket weaving,” Ouellet said.

Ouellet said approximately 50 per cent of Indigenous students attend post secondary.

Programming will be peer reviewed for maximum success

The college will partner with the Musqueam Nation, located in South Vancouver and The Urban Native Youth Association, located in East Vancouver to develop the program. The students who are chosen for the program will also give their input to help make the program more suitable.

Danni Beardy, Langara Students’ Union Aboriginal representative, said she recognizes there is a need for students to upgrade their skills and the grant will have a positive impact the students.

“It’s amazing that the money came through,”  Beardy said. “It will definitely help a lot of people.”

The first cohort of 20 students begin their full time studies in January on the Musqueam Reserve. The program will then be tweaked and offered to a second group through the Urban Native Youth Association. Upon successful completion of the 26-week program the students can attend Langara in the general studies program.

Len Pierre, manager of Indigenous Services for Students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University also sees a need to supplement Indigenous students’ learning to strengthen their transition to post-secondary studies.

“We are really holding their voice and values at the centre of whatever program we’re going to offer,” he said.

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