Manitoba Inuit association offers support to students
Education Connections program now in its second year
With school back up and running, the Manitoba Inuit Association is putting out a call to Inuit secondary and post-secondary students in the province.
The association runs an Inuit-focused student-support program called Education Connections.
The program, now in its second year, aims to “break any barriers to increase the successful graduation of Inuit students,” said Andrea Popoff, one of the program’s student support workers.
It was founded in 2015 and is run full-time in Winnipeg by Popoff and her colleague, Jenelle Sammurtok.
Along with academic support, the program also assists secondary and post-secondary students find and complete applications for grants, bursaries and scholarships.
They also help Inuit who are new to the city with things like mapping out bus routes and finding the best place to buy groceries.
Popoff said the association is also working with Manitoba-based training and educational institutions to connect with new and already-established support for Inuit students.
“Now that school is starting, we’re already making connections and meeting with school divisions here,” Popoff said.
Popoff said a lot of the program’s outreach is done through in-person visits to universities and colleges in the province.
Those visits often help them determine how many Inuit students are enrolled in those institutions and how they can connect with those students to help them access the program’s services.
“For privacy reasons, they can’t tell us how many students attend these institutions. It’s basically us going out there and making people aware … showing them that we exist, we’re out there,” Popoff said.
“We’re always going to be connecting with the colleges and universities just to make sure that they’re aware that we’re here and we can help them with whatever they may need help with,” Sammurtok said.
The program also offers a mentorship program that connects secondary students with post-secondary students.
“We continuously connect with them throughout their journey in university or college,” Sammurtok said.
Another element of the program is cultural activities, including sewing, visits from elders and cooking.
Popoff said they want to expand this to include country food feasts and language lessons.
“They don’t really get that experience here. That food is not readily available here. And for Inuit students who have been living in the south all their lives, they may not have had exposure to Inuktitut lessons,” she said.
Popoff and Sammurtok hope their outreach efforts will not only bring in more Inuit students to the program, but will also attract more Inuit organizations who may want to partner with them.
Anyone interested in the Education Connections program can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call 204-774-6848 ext. 204.
An earlier version of this story said that the Manitoba Inuit Association was founded in 2018, rather than 2015.