This August, Enji Giigdoyang, Nipissing’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, partnered with the Schulich School of Education and Canadore College to pilot a transition program for students relocating to North Bay for post-secondary education.
The three-day program, titled Biidaaban: Welcome to Community Transition Program, provided a well-rounded experience for all participants, focussing on supporting Indigenous students at Nipissing University and Canadore College and their families in their transition to North Bay.
The first day included an opening circle with Elder Carol Guppy; a campus tour with Kerry Lynn Peltier, Enji Giigdoyang’s community liaison and development coordinator; and Gerard Peltier, the First Peoples’ Centre’s Recruitment and Retention Officer. Participants also visited the Library’s Treaty Learning Centre and attended an academic workshop with Lindsey Voisin from Nipissing’s Office of Student Development and Services.
The second day focused on a community bus tour of Nipissing First Nation and North Bay, with stops for a hike at Duchesnay Falls, a visit to the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, the Waterfront, the Fire Station and the YMCA. Other key places like grocery stores, clinics and supports in the city were pointed out.
The program was specifically designed to support new Nipissing University and Canadore College students and their families, so the goal of day three was to get new elementary and secondary school students registered and to experience a tour of their new schools, meet principals and get uniforms.
The transition program welcomed 15 participants. Some families came from Timmins and others from Nemaska (Northern Quebec).
“Enji Giigdoyang is thrilled to have been able to offer this program to new students and their families to help them feel welcomed and at ease in our beautiful community,” said Tanya Lukin-Linklater, director of Indigenous Initiatives. “The program was very successful and we hope to continue it in the future.”
This pilot program was made possible through a Parents Reaching Out grant proposed by Dr. Glenda Black and Samantha Restoule, through the Ministry of Education.