UPEI Aboriginal Student Centre Officially Opens on January 20
Friday, January 16, 2009
Aboriginal students attending the University of Prince Edward Island now have a place on campus they can call their own.
Located on the fifth floor of historic Dalton Hall, the Maoi Omi Aboriginal Student Centre will be officially opened on Tuesday, January 20, at 2 pm. The name Maoi Omi, which means gathering place—a place to share and support one another—in the Mi’kmaq language, was chosen after consulting aboriginal students and elders.The Centre is a comfortable room where aboriginal students can study, relax, share with one another, host events, have talking circles, and receive any supports they need while attending UPEI. But it is more than a physical space.
Julie Bull, coordinator of the Centre, is passionate about the project. She is an aboriginal student who has completed her BA and Master’s degree at UPEI, and is now working on her PhD through Dalhousie University.
“We are offering mentoring and support services to aboriginal students, such as tutoring, counselling, helping with course selection, or finding volunteer or work opportunities. I hope that by having a space we can call our own and getting involved in the campus community, we will encourage more aboriginal youth to attend UPEI.”
The Centre is part of a larger project funded by the federal government’s Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative.
The overall project, led by Dr. Kimberly Critchley, Dean of Nursing, who is of Mi’kmaq descent, involves development of a transition program to increase non-financial support for aboriginal students and to ensure their success in completing their studies.
Through the project, P.E.I. aboriginal students Ashley Jadis and Stephanie Jadis, who are studying nursing at UPEI, will work with the provincial school system to ensure that aboriginal students are encouraged to continue their studies at the post-secondary level and that they know what courses they need to take in order to do so.
The project arose out of conversations between Critchley and Ashley and Stephanie about support systems that they believe would be useful to aboriginal students who want to study at UPEI.
“Our ultimate goal is to make changes and improvements at UPEI that will result in a significant increase in the number of aboriginal students attending UPEI,” says Critchley.
The PEI Department of Education, the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI and the Webster Centre for Teaching and Learning at UPEI are partners in the 20-month project.
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