$1 million for Aboriginal studies

Provincial funding used for online courses, Four Directions centre

Mark Green, Queen’s Aboriginal Council co-chair, says about $700,000 of the $1 million investment will go towards the Four Directions Aboriginal Centre.
Mark Green, Queen’s Aboriginal Council co-chair, says about $700,000 of the $1 million investment will go towards the Four Directions Aboriginal Centre.

Queen’s has received more than $1 million to improve resources and services for Aboriginal services.

The funding will go towards attracting and supporting Aboriginal students. It was announced by Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen on behalf of the provincial government on Jan. 22.

Queen’s funding is part of the provincial government’s $26.4-million investment in Aboriginal education in early January.

Civil engineering professor and Queen’s Aboriginal Council co-chair Mark Green said the funding will go towards several different initiatives. The Four Directions Aboriginal Centre will receive just under $700,000 of the $1 million in response to a proposal put forward by the Council, which is composed of members of the University and Aboriginal communities, Green said.

“That proposal was funded about $680,000 a year for three years and the fund for that goes to support the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre,” he said. “[The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre] provides a lot of activities on campus, such as, every week they have a Three Sisters Feast and there’s an annual Powwow, they have traditional drum groups, things like that.”

Green said another substantial part of the funding will go towards the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, which provides Aboriginal students with the opportunity to choose between two styles of study.

“There’s community-based education where the courses are actually delivered in the aboriginal communities and then there’s also an on-campus program as well that was funded and then potential Aboriginal teacher candidates come to Queen’s,” he said, adding that the on-campus program is similar to the pre-existing one-year teaching program, but with specialized courses and more emphasis on aboriginal education.

As a part of the aboriginal education initiative, a new masters course with an aboriginal focus will also receive funding, Green said.

“There’s also … a new online masters course, Aboriginal and World Indigenous Education Studies, and the so that’s a new program and that’s offered online, the students come here for one course in the summer and the remainder is online,” he said.

Green said other projects to receive funding include an engineering access program to try to encourage more aboriginal students to enter engineering programs and a policy studies and First Nations Technical Institute collaborative masters program in public administration.

“For the remaining amount, there was some money provided directly for bursaries and then there was a little over $300,000 allocated for the university experience program,” he said.

The University Experience Program is a high school outreach program run by the University Registrar’s Office.

Green said the new funding will almost double the current funding of those initiatives.

“We’re really encouraged that it will help to provide more opportunities for more aboriginal students to come to Queen’s and also to enhance services we already have.”

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