Fanshawe reiterates long-standing commitment to Indigenous student outcomes.
Every college in Ontario is incorporating Indigenous knowledge into its programs and services, says a recently released report to the provincial government on the colleges' response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
There is a dedicated counsellor for Indigenous students and an Indigenous education council advisory group at each of Ontario's 24 colleges. As well, most colleges have implemented courses and learning modules specifically devoted to Indigenous issues.
"Incorporating Indigenous language, culture, identity and community in education is a key step towards reconciliation," said Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. "I want to thank colleges for joining us in supporting greater access to lifelong learning opportunities for Indigenous people."
Since opening its First Nations Centre in 1996, Fanshawe has long expressed its commitment to the success of Indigenous students. For example:
- In 2015, the College signed Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan)'s Indigenous Education Protocol, an aspirational guide to improving programs and services for Indigenous students; the College is currently developing a multi-faceted Indigenous Action Plan to implement the seven priorities of the protocol
- Recently, Fanshawe made improvements to Indigenous student orientation and transition services, as well as developing innovative program offerings at sites like Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceeded First Nation
- The College also supports awareness campaigns such as the Faceless Dolls exhibit and REDress Project, and holds an annual Year End Gathering Pow Wow and celebration of student success.
"We're helping more Indigenous students successfully acquire a post-secondary education that will lead to a rewarding career," said Peter Devlin, President of Fanshawe College. "Providing opportunities for Indigenous students continues to be a priority at Fanshawe and throughout the province."
"The focus at Fanshawe is on meaningful actions and relationships with the Indigenous communities in our area," said Guy Williams, manager of the First Nations Centre at Fanshawe. "Our priority is that students should have access to the education they need and supports that provide them with equal opportunities to succeed."
There are more than 10,000 Indigenous students enrolled in Ontario's colleges. The report to government, Addressing Truth and Reconciliation: Summary report of Ontario's colleges, describes the findings of a 2017 survey of colleges on the programs and supports available to those students.
The survey was developed by Colleges Ontario, the advocacy organization for the colleges, and the Indigenous People's Education Circle, a committee of college educators, counsellors and administrators. Other highlights from the survey include:
- All colleges are supporting student success through initiatives such as dedicated campus spaces for Indigenous students, cultural activities, workshops and more
- More than 90 per cent of colleges have incorporated Indigenous ceremonial practices such as smudging ceremonies and powwows into campus life
- About 60 per cent of colleges have developed stand-alone education strategies or plans in collaboration with their Indigenous communities.
The report says it will take years to fully develop policies and programs through engagement with Indigenous communities and stakeholders. The colleges will be releasing an annual report on their progress.
"There has been significant momentum in the work we're doing to address reconciliation," said Carolyn Hepburn, the dean of Indigenous studies and academic upgrading at Sault College and chair of the Indigenous People's Education Circle.
"Clearly, there's more to do, but colleges are committed to providing Indigenous students with the education and supports they need and deserve to be successful."
Fanshawe College is one of Ontario's largest colleges. For more than 50 years, Fanshawe has been helping people to unlock their potential and achieve success, including approximately 500 students who have self-identified as belonging to First Nations, Métis or Inuit heritage.
The First Nations Centre at Fanshawe College is a gathering place for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Since opening its doors in 1996, the First Nations Centre has offered culturally supportive services and programs, academic awards, spiritual and recreational activities as well as a comfortable atmosphere for Indigenous students. The Centre also facilitates the First Nations Student Association and maintains close connections with local Indigenous communities and social service organizations. For more information, visit www.fanshawec.ca/firstnations.