Mastercard Foundation supports Indigenous students during pandemic
- | June 11, 2020
Three Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions have received a total of $840,000 from the Mastercard Foundation to support Indigenous students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 4, the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI), the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), and the University of Saskatchewan (USask) announced their partnership and a shared commitment to providing immediate support for Indigenous students dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on their lives and their education.
According to a media release, the institutions will deliver support programs including:
• 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 topics.
“There is no blueprint for navigating this crisis. However, the actions we take now will shape the post-COVID-19 world,” said Mastercard Foundation CEO and President Reeta Roy.
“This crisis is teaching us how interdependent we are as well as how powerful collective action can be.”
Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan said this contribution will help “enhance the wholistic well-being” of the university’s Indigenous students.
“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,” said Dr. Ottmann. “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.”
Riel Bellegarde, President and CEO of SIIT also commented on the partnership, saying they are looking forward to the collaboration to ensure a “bright future for Indigenous education in Canada.”
“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,” Bellegarde said.