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Indigenous Mentorship Day Shows Students Possibilities Beyond Secondary School

Four adults stand at the front of an auditorium

Caption: The day's presenters shared their unique career paths

The path after graduating secondary school is often full of twists and turns. Determining next steps and finding the supports necessary to achieve your goals can be a difficult process.

It can be especially difficult for Indigenous students who don’t always see themselves reflected in the college and university programs, or sometimes even the careers they aspire to.

Presented as equal parts information fair, guest presentations, and student social and dance, the Indigenous Mentorship Day, on March 28, 2018, aimed to ease this transition to post-secondary education for Grand Erie District School Board Indigenous student as well as inspire and empower their decision making.

“Part of my role here at Grand Erie is to help students navigate the world beyond secondary school,” said Joe Tice, Grad Coach (Post Secondary Navigator) for Indigenous Students, who took the lead in organizing the day. “The event is about opening doors of possibility.”

Guest speakers included Sergeant Raymond Starks of the Canadian Armed Forces; Yotakahron Jonathan, a medical student at McMaster University; Randi Garlow, banking advisor at RBC; and Cameron Sault, addictions and outreach worker with New Directions. All are highly accomplished in their chosen fields, and brought advice and guidance to the captivated audience.

“You didn’t see many Indigenous people in uniform when I started in my career, that’s for sure,” said Starks, who began 25 years ago with the Canadian Armed Forces. “However, it's come a long way, and now there’s a lot more knowledge about supports available.”

Also on hand were Indigenous student association representatives from a number of area colleges and universities. The post-secondary institutions were there to highlight the services and supports available, as well as to show students the ways in which Indigenous culture is embraced and celebrated on their campuses. Indigenous student associations and services at the college and university level make it easy to access resources and supports, take part in events and connect with other Indigenous students, and achieve their academic goals.

For students, the message of the day’s event was received.

Two students pose with a crowd behind them

Caption: Students Dallas and Sam found the event helpful and inspiring

“Hearing from the speakers, it’s clear to me that sometimes the way you think you’re going isn’t where you ultimately end up, and that’s okay,” said Dallas, student at Brantford Collegiate Institute. “I’m considering a few possible career paths, and learning more about other people’s paths is really helpful.”

For Sam, a fellow BCI student, the highlight of the event was the dance in the afternoon.

“The singers, the drumming, and the dancing is a great way to celebrate our culture and socialize.”

Thanks to events such as the Indigenous Mentorship Day, students will take this energy with them, whatever path they choose to pursue.


Grand Erie's Multi-Year Plan includes Equity and Achievement as two of its main pillars. Events such as Indigenous Mentorship Day set high expectations for students as they work towards goals, and recognize that the paths to achievement are as unique as each student.


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