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Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, MSVU partnering on support program for Aboriginal students

The Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre in June 2017. Global News

A Halifax university and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre are launching a pilot program designed to support Aboriginal students in achieving their education and career goals.

Mount Saint Vincent University announced the new partnership, titled the Aboriginal Academic Access Post-Secondary (AAAPS) program, on Monday.

Funded through the Nova Scotia government, AAAPS will bring “university courses and academic supports” to students at the centre, creating a solid foundation before students transition to their chosen university programs, the press release read.

READ MORE: Three Atlantic universities get $1.2M to ‘Indigenize’ their campuses

By providing programs at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, the hope is that students can learn in a familiar community setting that allows them to access childcare, cultural supports and other services.

“There are great benefits in the delivery of a program like this one,” said Pam Glode-Desrochers, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.

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“It will minimize the impacts of barriers Aboriginal students often face in their first year of post-secondary education, such as alienation, discrimination, financial burdens and social stresses.”

Students enrolled in the AAAPS program will take six university half-credit courses during the fall and winter academic terms, including mathematics, writing, research skills, public speaking and social sciences.

Course content will integrate Aboriginal perspectives and tutoring, career counselling and co-curricular activities.

WATCH (Nov. 28, 2018): Federal governments tells self-governance summit they’re committed to advancing Mi’kmaw Nation

Click to play video: 'Federal governments tells self-governance summit they’re committed to advancing Mi’kmaw Nation' Federal governments tells self-governance summit they’re committed to advancing Mi’kmaw Nation
Federal governments tells self-governance summit they’re committed to advancing Mi’kmaw Nation – Nov 28, 2018

Although most classes will be offered at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, students will also make “several visits” to MSVU and its aboriginal student centre.

“We are thrilled to be launching the AAAPS program with our colleagues at the Friendship Centre. It’s reflective of our shared vision of accessible higher education for Aboriginal students,” said Elizabeth Church, vice president academic and provost at MSVU.

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The university says a program co-ordinator has already been hired to lead the program.

The first cohort of 15 to 18 students is expected to be enrolled this September.

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