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Site sparks student success


Gary George, SFU’s Indigenous student life coordinator, is one of numerous Aboriginal staff
and faculty members, students and community elders who share their educational experiences
in film vignettes and transcripts at FindingYourGifts.ca.
December 01, 2011
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Only nine per cent of Aboriginal high school graduates are university-eligible, compared to 32 per cent of non-Aboriginal grads, according to a recent government report. That’s a troubling statistic, but one a new website developed at SFU aims to help change for the better.

FindingYourGifts.ca brings together Aboriginal elders, university students, and grads who share their advice and experiences in post secondary education to give prospective Aboriginal students the best possible chance for success.

The site offers practical, real-life advice on how to navigate everything from band funding to time management, while nurturing mind, body, and spirit.

In one film clip, SFU Indigenous student life coordinator Gary George recalls the culture shock he felt coming to university from a small northern B.C. community.

“My parents... shipped us jarred salmon, they shipped us jarred moose meat and it was such a blessing to get that in,” he says. “They’d say ‘Here’s something from us to help you out down there’.”

In another, SFU First Nations Student Association board member Angela Semple advises students considering university or college to just send in the application. “For me, that letter was just validation that I could do it. So send the letter and see where it takes you. You have nothing to lose, really.”

Joyce Schneider, now a UBC PhD Student, recalls staying away from school for a week after being “crushed” by racist comments in an undergraduate class, but adds, “What got me back was remembering why I was going. It was for something bigger than myself. It was for my children....”

SFU Continuing Studies' Leadership and Community Building Programs and 7th Floor Media produced FindingYourGifts.ca with support from the Inukshuk Fund.

“This comprehensive, well researched and positive website provides timely and excellent advice and services in an easy-to-navigate format,” said Aboriginal Peoples office director, William Lindsay.

“Aboriginal students will know they are not alone, that they have support, and that the tools for support exist and are within.”

Story courtesy of SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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