**** Media Release
Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and MSVU to launch new university access program
The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and Mount Saint Vincent University are pleased to be launching a pilot of a new university access program designed to support Aboriginal students in achieving their education and career goals.
Made possible by funding from the Province of Nova Scotia, the Aboriginal Academic Access Post-Secondary (AAAPS) program will bring university courses and academic supports to students at the Friendship Centre in order to provide a solid foundation before students transition to their chosen university programs. During the program, students will have the opportunity to explore and expand their academic interests and abilities.
Program delivery at the Friendship Centre will mean that students can learn in a familiar community setting, while also accessing the cultural supports, childcare, and other services the Centre provides.
“There are great benefits in the delivery of a program like this one,” said Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre. “It will minimize the impacts of barriers Aboriginal students often face in their first year of post-secondary education, such as alienation, discrimination, financial burdens and social stresses.”
The AAAPS program will balance academic curriculum and co-curricular activities to enhance the range of knowledge and skills for students to transition to campus learning and future employment. Students will take six university half credit courses during the fall and winter academic terms, includingMathematics, Writing, Research Skills, Public Speaking, and Social Sciences. Course content will integrate Aboriginal perspectives to make learning meaningful and respectful. In addition to tutoring, career counselling, and group interaction, co-curricular activities will be woven into the curriculum.
While most of the program will be delivered on-site at the Friendship Centre, AAAPS students will make several visits to the Mount so that they can become familiar with the Aboriginal Student Centre and the full range of available student supports. Students will also have the opportunity to network with and be mentored by current Mount Aboriginal students.
“Over the last number of years, the Mount has worked alongside the Aboriginal communities of Nova Scotia to identify pathways for higher learning for Aboriginal and Mi’kmaw students,” said Dr. Elizabeth Church, Vice-President Academic and Provost, Mount Saint Vincent University. “We are thrilled to be launching the AAAPS program with our colleagues at the Friendship Centre – it’s reflective of our shared vision of accessible higher education for Aboriginal students.”
A program coordinator has been hired to lead the initiative, which will welcome its first cohort this September. Approximately 15-18 students are expected in the first year.