(Photo: University of Saskatchewan)
(Photo: University of Saskatchewan)

Sask. post-secondary institutions receive $840K for Indigenous students impacted by COVID-19

The University of Saskatchewan (USask), the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI), and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to support Indigenous students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnerships, between the Mastercard Foundation and each of the post-secondary institutions, present a shared commitment to provide immediate support for Indigenous students dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on their lives and their education.

GDI, SIIT, and USask will deliver support programs by drawing on their existing networks and capabilities to provide student supports that will include:

  • Immediate access to technological solutions such as Internet connectivity, laptops, and
    remote IT support to enhance access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Access to mental health and wellness supports to help Indigenous students deal with the
    challenges resulting from isolation, social distancing, and other barriers.
  • Direct support to Indigenous students through emergency funds to help meet basic
    needs like rent, childcare, and medications.
  • Enhancement and modification of existing wraparound supports so they can be
    delivered virtually to students, and the creation and delivery of new virtual content on
    mental health, recruitment and advising, counselling, Elders and culture, and other key

"There is no blueprint for navigating this crisis. However, the actions we take now will shape the post-COVID-19 world. This crisis is teaching us how interdependent we are as well as how powerful collective action can be,” said Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.

“Supporting our students through this unprecedented and stressful time is our top priority right now. We are deeply appreciative of the Mastercard Foundation’s generous commitment. It will help enhance the 'wholistic' well-being of our Indigenous students during this time. This contribution will allow Indigenous students to have the access and support to stay connected and engaged in their studies while in their communities; it will help to ensure that they have the technological, online learning guidance, and mental support that they need to fulfill their educational goals,” said Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, USask vice-provost of Indigenous Engagement.

Riel Bellegarde, president and CEO of SIIT said, "On behalf of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and our Board of Governors, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Mastercard Foundation in supporting our Institution and Indigenous learners through the COVID-19 pandemic. These generous contributions directly respond to the needs of our students with relief and supports – and lay a foundation for our institutions to transition to new, virtual academic delivery platforms. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation and our colleagues at GDI and USask – as we pivot into this new environment – ensuring a bright future for Indigenous education in Canada."

“We are grateful to the Mastercard Foundation for their willingness to invest in the education and mental health and well-being of Métis students. Through collaboration with communities, service providers, and other post-secondary institutions across Saskatchewan, we will be able to deliver the much-needed support to Métis students,” said GDI Executive Director, Geordy McCaffrey.

Article originally published on https://news.usask.ca

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