Equity Enhancement Fund – Stories

Emerging Aboriginal Scholars Program

Recipient of the Equity Enhancement Fund 2012
Report by Rick Ouellet, Student and Community Development Officer, First Nations House of Learning

The Emerging Aboriginal Scholars Program is a five week academic and work experience opportunity for Aboriginal youth in grades 9-12. This program was developed through multiple partnerships. The 2012 partnerships included; the First Nations House of Learning, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, the Equity Enhancement Fund, the Province of BC and private donors. In addition, academic units across campus offered work experience opportunities for the students for 7.5 hours a week. Students worked in labs and offices supporting researchers and learning with them.

The 2012 class of Emerging Aboriginal Scholars included 24 Aboriginal youth from the Lower Mainland currently enrolled in grades 9-12. The program ran between July 5 and August 5. The students begin their day at 9 am working on math and writing skills at the First Nations Longhouse. Lunch was served at the Longhouse and students spent three afternoons a week gaining work experience across the campus in areas that interested them. Workshops and cultural programming were offered on non-work afternoons.

The 2012 students obtained work experience positions across a wide range of units on campus including; the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, TRIUMPH (Read story), and faculties including Chemistry, Zoology, Law and Medicine. The feedback has been very positive with units requesting to be part of the program again next year.

We also increased the number of students from 20 in 2011, to 24 in 2012. We had to turn away potential students as the interest among Aboriginal youth has exceeded our capacity, which is a clear indication of how this program resonates with the youth we are targeting.

Another indication of the viability of the Emerging Scholars Program is its new relationship with the Mini-Med-School Program, offered through the Child and Family Research Centre. The Mini-Med-School program is designed to mentor high school students that are interested in a career in medicine. Historically student intake has been based on recommendations from Lower Mainland high schools, with each school providing the names of two students. Through this intake model, Aboriginal students are rarely among those who are offered this opportunity. However, because of the quality and motivation of Emerging Aboriginal scholar students, two positions in the Mini-Med-School will be offered to Aboriginal students participating in our program. This provides an opportunity to Aboriginal Students that had not existed previously and demonstrates the potential for further opportunities coming from this project.

The support of the Equity Enhancement Fund for the first two years of this program has been very important. The funding received has allowed us to pay $100.00 per week to students engaging in work experience and has allowed units to participate in the program without having to find resources to administer payment to students. All of the Fund was administered through the FNHL to pay hourly wages to Aboriginal students working in areas that were previously unavailable to them.


Another piece for the BLOG can be found on the TRIUMPH website:

Rick Ouellet
Student and Community Development Officer
Tel: (604) 822-8941


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