Most Canadian colleges and universities offer support for Indigenous students.
Many campuses may have an elder available for consultations, Aboriginal student groups, and an Aboriginal student centre, in addition to events, presentations, and scholarly initiatives aimed at engaging the Aboriginal community.
Upon graduating, many Indigenous students find themselves needing support more than ever. While finding similar opportunities outside of campus may seem daunting at first, there are definitely options for aspiring young professionals that are looking to connect with their community.
Categories of Resources
Take some time to think about the resources you used in university. What did you find most valuable from these activities? What were you looking to gain from participating?
It’s important to understand what your priorities are – different supports will emphasize different needs and preferences.
Here are some types of resources – which suits your priorities best?
Do you gravitate toward social or cultural resources that put you into contact with other people?
Many Indigenous youth thrive when they are connected with others in their community. It may suit their extroverted personality, or give them a sense of belonging. Some may use these resources for professional or community networking as well.
These resources may include planning and engaging in social activities and cultural events, or being part of an Aboriginal Youth Society.
Are you looking for a resource that will help you achieve personal and professional goals?
There are many students that seek advice from more experienced individuals to help guide them in their educational or career journey. And often, connecting with those who come from a common background or share similar values make achieving these goals a lot easier.
Some examples of these resources may include guidance from career advisors, spiritual advisors, peer mentors, workshops, and study groups.
Are you looking for resources that help you access information, learn, or teach?
Information gathering does not have to be devoid of social interaction – but if your ultimate reason for attending campus gatherings is to gain knowledge, you can focus your search when looking for new organizations.
Some great information gathering groups might include attending speaker series, guest lectures, or scholarly events.
Finding your perfect fit
Now that you’ve evaluated your objectives, it’s time to go hunting for your new resources. Many organizations and communities can cover many aspects of what you’re looking for – you may even discover activities and benefits you never knew about before!
Here are some examples of community engagement to help you get started.
Whether you are looking for social, informational, or goal-development resources, networking is incredibly useful. However, networking with individuals who you share a common background with can make the experience even more worthwhile.
You might seek out a network for socializing, discussing career-related ideas, or sharing advice and support. Social networking tools like LinkedIn are incredibly useful even after you’ve found a job. You can search for others with careers, backgrounds, and goals similar to your own. Based on your shared interests, you can reach out to people to form a new support network.
Try sending a brief, to-the-point private message to another Aboriginal professional. Explain your reason for contacting them – through doing this, you can form a new network with others in your area.
If you made use of social resources at university, you can find similar opportunities and support at community centres.
Aboriginal Community Centres offer cultural programs and events. The Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program provides key contacts for Friendship Centres in cities and towns across Canada. Provinces also have websites listing information for each provincial Association of Friendship Centre.
Programs at community centres are very diverse since activities and events aren’t necessarily aimed at students. This resource might lead you to a new social group as well as new interests.
If taking on peer-editing or other mentorship opportunities at your student centre was one of your campus highlights, there are a lot of way you can continue doing just that. Many universities have programs where alumni can volunteer as mentors to students.
If you are looking for support for goal-setting and achieving, check the Aboriginal Friendship Centres in your area for cultural and spiritual advising.
Mentoring can also be an informal activity. Your co-workers or friends might be happy to share problems and advice. Consider scheduling bi-weekly or monthly
gatherings with a small group with peer support in mind.
Discussing Aboriginal Issues
If you are attracted to informational resources, you can seek out a new learning community. A learning community can provide social and goal-development support along the way too.
If attending events and taking part in initiatives was a part of your academic life, you can seek out organizations that hold discussions and debates. For example, some Canadian universities like McGill, Simon Fraser, and Brock have community learning initiatives that arrange spaces for moderated conversations.
Look up the website of the university nearest you to see what kind of public outreach services they offer. Community learning programs usually schedule free public conversations in advance so that you can participate in the topics that interest you.
Most cities will have similar programs organized by individuals or groups not associated with a university. While the university-affiliated conversations are likely to have a theoretical focus, some non-university organizations might offer more goal-oriented topics such as conversations focused on specific careers for Aboriginal professionals.
Another way to discuss the topics on your mind is to create your own conversations. You might consider starting your own informal conversation group with people you meet at these wider events.
Twitter offers another form of group selection. Follow people who tweet about subjects you care about and contribute your own thoughts. This public, online discussion can get you noticed by others, leading to more connections, more ideas, and maybe even more career options.
As you can see, the different types of resources, having to do with the complexities of living and working, tend to overlap. By knowing what is most important to you in resources and supports, you can find the ones with the right emphasis for you.