Transitions students Erica Hare, Cyndil Corbiere and Percy Roy from M’Chigeeng First Nation participate in an activity to illustrate the connection between their identity, health, peer network and educational success.

Transitions students Erica Hare, Cyndil Corbiere and Percy Roy from M’Chigeeng First Nation participate in an activity to illustrate the connection between their identity, health, peer network and educational success.

By Kelly Crawford

M’CHIGEENG FN – A pilot program at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) helps make post-secondary studies a reality for more First Nations learners by enabling them to do first-year university studies in their community.

Beverley Roy, Director of Business, says the KTEI “Azhiitaawin” (Transitions) program helps students cope with two obstacles.

“The additional support available when remaining within the community for at least one year will decouple the two important transitions students make – living away from home and moving to a new academic environment,” she says, “ and result in a greater retention rate of students who have chosen the university path.”

“I didn’t think I was university material until this program,” says Freda Endanawas, Sheshegwaning First Nation. “This program has allowed me to explore my Anishinaabe identity while taking my first year university close to home.”

Azhiitaawin is a community-based post-secondary education opportunity offered through Kenjgewin Teg in partnership with the University of Sudbury, Nipissing University and Algoma University. This pre-university transitions program supports students with essential skill development learning while making it possible for them to earn 24 university credits in a block community-based delivery.

“A partnership with KTEI is not new to the University of Sudbury, but this much broader initiative is very exciting” says President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Pierre Zundel. “This initiative fits very well with our renewed commitment to offer post-secondary education when and where it is most needed.”

The core courses were specifically selected to ensure a solid Indigenous knowledge base. “I look forward to studying more about Indigenous studies from all perspectives,” says Freda Endanawas.

In addition to obtaining 24 university credits, students will participate in modules in financial literacy, leadership and life skills. During the program students receive intensive academic and personal support. Students will complete the program with the development of a personal financial plan, video journal and personal academic journey plan.

In addition, students participate in the KTEI Passport to Anishinaabe Odziiwin, a self- learning tool that creates and promotes an environment that reflects Anishinaabe language, traditions and culture.

Erica Hare, M’Chigeeng First Nation, has found a new sense of direction.

“The Transitions program is excellent to take when you are not sure which direction to take. I took this program to help me figure out my path. I look forward to completing the program. I can’t wait to say I DID IT!”

Upon completion of the pre-university readiness pilot transitions program at KTEI students will be able to continue their studies without application by defaulting to the partner institution of their choice.

Currently KTEI is recruiting for this program on a full-time and part-time basis. Students are able to take part-time university studies by registering in one of the courses. This is ideal for someone who requires additional elective university courses for their degree requirements.

Up-coming courses include:

INDG 1117 Implications of Aboriginal Peoplehood – Feb. 05-28, 2014

VISA 1026 Visual Fundamentals –  Mar.03-Apr. 01, 2014

CESD 1006 Introduction to Community Economic and Social Development – Apr. 02-28, 2014

Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of eight First Nation community representatives in the Manitoulin-North shore area and is centrally located on Manitoulin Island – Mnidoo Mnising in M’Chigeeng First Nation. KTEI provides community based-approaches to education, training and business support services and opportunities. In the Ojibwe language, “Kenjgewin Teg” means “a place of knowledge”.

For more information on the Azhiitaawin (Transitions) Program contact Kelly Crawford, Transitions Coordinator, KellyCrawford@ktei.net .