IMPRESS

IMPRESS program logo

The Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students (IMPRESS) offers Indigenous undergraduate students from McGill or other Quebec post-secondary institutions a unique experiential learning opportunity to conduct research with a McGill professor, or to work on a project at one of our units — all while being paid!

The program aims to strengthen their research skills, boost their career-readiness, and expose them to pathways to graduate school, through activities that help them build their skillsets and connect with peers. Each participating student is paired with an Indigenous graduate student mentor who offers support and guidance throughout their experience.

How it works

IMPRESS takes place over an eight-week period (June -July), 20 hours per week:

  • 15 hours in a research setting
  • 5 hours in professional development, leadership training, as well as attending a variety of social engagements.

Activities might include:

  • Meeting with your host professor/professional for training and direction
  • Connecting with your Indigenous graduate student mentor for advice or guidance
  • Reading literature and undertaking other research activities
  • Learning interview techniques
  • Carrying out lab work, attending lab meetings, or events specific to your professor’s area of work
  • Attending professional and leadership development workshops, events, and social activities
  • Journaling about your experience

 

What can I get from IMPRESS?

  • Gain hands-on research experience
  • Boost your overall career-readiness through professional skills training
  • Build professional networks
  • Increase your insight into pathways toward graduate studies
  • Make strong connections and build community with Indigenous graduate mentors and IMPRESS peers
  • Help newly admitted students get acquainted with McGill
  • Receive a letter of recommendation for your time as an IMPRESS intern

You will also receive a $5,000 stipend for your participation in the program.

 

The application for IMPRESS is now closed.

Stay tuned for the next round!

The projects

Here is a list of projects you could take part in during IMPRESS. You will be asked to list your top three choices on the application form, but you will only be assigned to one of those. Take a moment to explore the projects and pick the ones that interest you the most. Stay tuned for the ones coming up soon!

Arts

Social work: the experiences of social exclusion and inclusion among people aging with neurodiversity and their families

 

Professor Shari Brotman

Neurodiverse people and their family caregivers experience considerable social exclusion across the life course. This reality shapes their experiences of aging and results in challenging circumstances, most notably related to inequities in housing and social support. Our proposed study explores the experiences of aging with neurodiversity (ND), from the perspective of older persons living with neurodiversity, their families and service providers. ‘Neurodiversity’ is an inclusive term developed by disability rights communities that has started to gain recognition across sectors. Neurodiverse people include those living with intellectual/developmental disability, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and Down syndrome, among other conditions. Our study addresses all aspects of daily lived experience including personal, social, communal and structural realities. We place specific attention on the realities and challenges associated with accessing housing and social support (both formal and informal) within the wider range of health and social care services available to persons aging with neurodiversity and the families who support them. Our objective is to document experiences in negotiating challenges (poverty, insecure housing, discrimination) and to develop recommendations that can inform inclusive policy and practice in order to better address the realities and challenges facing a community which has experienced significant social exclusion over the lifecourse.

Our project explores experiences of aging including key concerns, and opportunities for innovation in the intersecting areas of housing and social support. Older people living with ND, their families and service providers are being interviewed (in Montreal and Quebec City) over a three-year period using a methodology which includes narrative storytelling and arts-based lifeline drawings. We work collaboratively with an Advisory Group made up of older adults living with ND, their family caregivers and service providers, and community partners on the development and oversight of the project.

The student working with us will join our team. They will have an opportunity to learn about doing research with neurodiverse people and participate in team meetings, interview transcribing and help us to analyze the information we collect. Students may also participate in collecting literature from the library and participating in community outreach. Most activities will be undertaken remotely and/or virtually depending on pandemic circumstances but the supervising professor and research coordinator will be available to discuss work and progress each week via Zoom and telephone.

Social work: Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma Covid Groups

 

Professor Heather MacIntosh

The overall research project involves the adaptation of the Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma model into a virtual group format for couples struggling with trauma during COVID-19. We have run groups for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, couples as well as open groups more based on schedules than identity. We have worked on developing an anti-racism, indigenized curriculum for the BIPOC group, some of which is infused throughout the curriculum. We would like to develop a very specific curriculum for indigenous couples in the DCTCT groups.

Working with the PI as well as an Indigenous therapist who is facilitating on the project, the student will explore options for integrating the DCTCT curriculum into a more indigenously informed approach to working with couples dealing with trauma in group therapy. We have begun this work but would benefit from the support and expertise of another indigenous researcher.

Student prerequisites: Interest in clinical work, trauma, couple therapy, and indigenization (which could include a complete revamp of underlying principles based on some of the feedback from our indigenous couples) of western models of care.

Deliverables: Working with the PI and other research team members, a workbook and powerpoints to support the DCTCT group for indigenous couples.

Quebec Studies: Outreach Community Engaged Liaison Officer

 

Professor Dr Mary Anne Poutanen and Professor Stéphan Gervais

Contribute setting up names of Indigenous organizations

Student responsibilities:

  • Develop a list of Indigenous organizations and partners in Montreal
  • Verify the interest of these Indigenous organizations and partners to mentor students for a 30 to 50 hour Community Engaged student placement within a Quebec Studies course at McGill
  • Identify a resource person within these organizations to present the Community Engagement Learning Program
  • Listen to the needs of these organizations for the start of the 2022 school year
  • Co-construct community engagement learning projects adapted to students with Aboriginal organizations
  • Student prerequisites: Good knowledge of Montreal Indigenous network

Deliverable: Data spreadsheet of names, contact persons and Indigenous organizations willing to participate and contribute to the Community Engaged component of Quebec Studies

 

Political Science: Challenges of Transnational Solidarity

 

Professor Catherine Lu

The goal of this project is to think about the political theory of solidarity as it relates to the realm of transnational relations. We are used to thinking about solidarity among co-citizens, co-nationals, or among people who share the same religion. Solidarity has also been used to characterize mass protest movements such as Idle No More. However, is there anything substantive about solidarity across borders, in transnational contexts? This project will require the student to do research on the history of the concept of solidarity, and to investigate what challenges arise in conceptualizing and practicing solidarity in transnational contexts.

For example, the following questions will need to be examined:
(1) What is the basis of transnational solidarity, if there is no shared way of life? Is it a cause, set of experiences, conditions, or roles?
(2) If solidarity requires doing something to help overcome adversity and setting aside self-interest in this pursuit, what is the floor and what is the ceiling of sacrifice required to warrant calling an action solidarity? For example, is donating money to a cause enough? Or is joint action in civil disobedience required?
(3) If solidarity expresses mutuality, how can solidarity form among strangers?

The learning outcomes for the student is to gain knowledge in political philosophy about the concept of solidarity, and to apply this knowledge to thinking about how non-Indigenous people can show solidarity with Indigenous peoples and causes.

 

Education

Youth-led, Indigenous-Focused, Gender-Transformative, Arts-Based Approaches to Challenging Gender Norms in Addressing Gender based Violence

 

Professor Claudia Mitchell, Integrated Studies in Education (Participatory Cultures Lab): Pathways2Equity (P2E)

P2E is a girl-informed project, focusing on work with Indigenous boys and young men in Eskasoni, Rankin Inlet and Treaty 6, the Traditional Homelands of the Métis, Saskatoon. Now more than ever there is recognition of the importance of working with boys and young men in separate and nonthreatening, yet inclusive and integrated ways to address SGBV. Leadership of Indigenous girls and young women will critically inform and frame the engagement of Indigenous boys and young men in participatory and creative interventions. Specific objectives for the project include: fostering leadership with Indigenous girls and young women, engaging Indigenous boys and young men in ending GBV, creating local and culturally relevant dialogues and knowledge-sharing around the root causes of gender inequality and violence, and establishing a Pathways2Equity: Youth Framework based on local and national engagement and promising practices.

The student will be part of a small team of social science researchers, graduate students and interns from the Global Health program working on research focusing on Indigenous youth and the prevention of gender based violence. The main responsibilities will focus on 3 main areas: developing and maintaining an online annotated directory of arts-focused Indigenous youth organizations; contributing to supporting social media and other knowledge mobilization initiatives (including a youth-led newsletter) related to the activities of Pathways2Equity; contributing to preparing interview transcripts for analysis;

Website: https://www.mcgill.ca/morethanwords/
Recent Documents: https://issuu.com/morethanword
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MTWP2E
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtw_p2e/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MTW_P2E

Student prerequisites: social media skills, interest in the arts and creative expression;

Deliverables: directory of arts-focused Indigenous youth organizations; compiling news items from Indigenous youth across 5 main sites attached to the project.

Impact of the Pandemic on Substance Use and Services Among Indigenous Communities and Individuals in Quebec

 

Professor Dennis C. Wendt, Department of Education and Counselling Psychology

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on Indigenous Peoples across Canada. One area of concern pertains to the disruption of substance use treatment and recovery, along with exacerbated problems associated with substance use. This project seeks to understand the impact of the pandemic on substance use and services among Indigenous Peoples in Quebec. We also seek to understand the pandemic’s impact on access to culturally safe treatment, including access to Indigenous traditional healing practices. The project is in partnership with multiple Indigenous organizations and communities in Quebec, including organizations in Montreal, Kahnawake, Listuguj, Timiskaming, and Kawawachikamach. This project is part of a multi-site study, funded through the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)—facilitated through the Indigenous Working Group of the Quebec-Atlantic Node of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM). Interviews and/or surveys with key stakeholders, clinicians, patients, and community members are being conducted in order to understand experiences and necessary resources in the context of the pandemic and service transformations. The study is guided by a Two-Eyed Seeing framework, and data is being analyzed using principles of thematic content analysis.

The student selected to work in this project may assist with the following activities (depending on ongoing research needs and student interests/skills): community engagement, data collection, data entry and analysis, translation of materials (e.g., from English to French), reading literature, conducting literature reviews, and knowledge mobilization. It is anticipated that the student will be expected to assist with in-person community engagement and data collection activities with an organization serving Indigenous individuals experiencing homelessness in Montreal. However, it is possible that the student would be involved (remotely) with other partner organizations (listed above) in addition or instead. The student will gain hands-on research experience and be part of the Cultural and Indigenous Research in Counselling Psychology (CIRC) lab. There will be a network of Indigenous students working on this project and opportunity for personal development and to build professional networks. The main research areas that the selected student will be exposed with are community participatory research, ethical research with Indigenous Peoples, and substance use and trauma-informed care research with Indigenous peoples.

Student prerequisites: Fluency in written and spoken English; fluency in French is desirable (but not required). Although much of this work can be done remotely, we anticipate that some tasks will require in-person involvement in Montreal. This could be a valuable opportunity for a student interested in graduate study in medicine, psychology, social work, sociology, public health, and other related fields.

Deliverables: Deliverables may include one or more of the following: a study report, a peer-reviewed publication, a conference poster/presentation, and a community presentation.

 

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Healthy Brains Healthy Lives (4 projects)

Please note: projects with Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives are open to all disciplines, and take place from mid-May to mid-August, rather than over June and July, as with other projects. Students who take part in these projects will be awarded an additional $1,000 on top of the $5,000 standardly offered through the program.


PROJECT: Visual

Professor Stuart Trenholm

While much has been discovered over the last 100 years about how our brain allows us to perceive the world around us through visual system, much remains to be discovered. In this project, we will use behavioral tests in mice to examine their visual perception, probing their ability to perceive and generalize different types of visual features.

Student Responsibilities: Student’s will be expected to perform behavioral tests using a touchscreen operant reward system to examine visual perception in mice. Student’s will be expected to analyze their data, generate figures and perform statistical tests to describe their results, and present their findings in lab meetings.

Prerequisites: Be friendly and motivated! Be interested in asking questions.

Deliverable: Students will learn how to design and perform a scientific experiment, how to analyze data (including developing some coding skills), learn how to select and perform appropriate statistical tests and generate meaningful figures explaining results (also involving coding). Students will receive instruction on publicly presenting their research and be included in journal club meetings where they will learn to read and discuss primary scientific literature.


PROJECT: Behavioral studies with mice in virtual reality

Professor Arjun Krishnaswamy

This project will involve the training of mice to detect visual stimuli in virtual reality to obtain behavioral measures of visual attention

Student responsibilities: Students will be required to work together with a grad student and a postdoctoral fellow, as well as other undergraduates, to train a cohort of mice, collect data, and if time permits, perform analysis in matlab

Prerequisites: Knowledge of basic biology and math.

Deliverable: A behavioral dataset that characterizes the effects of attention during visually guided behavior.


PROJECT: Segmenting pyramidal neurons in visual cortex

Professor Blake Richards

For a larger project in the lab, we need to identify pyramidal neurons in the brains of mice from fluorescence microscopy images. These neurons have big, complex, tree-like structures that reach up to the surface of the brain (see the example figure below). In the long run, we hope to train artificial intelligence systems to do this identification for us. But, to do that, we need to provide human labeled data. This requires someone to carefully trace these neuronal “trees” by hand.

Student responsibilities: The student will be required to trace pyramidal neurons in 3D fluorescence microscopy images taken from the brains of mice.

Prerequisites: None, though a strong interest in neuroscience would be desirable.

Deliverable: This work will produce a new dataset for training artificial intelligence systems to identify pyramidal neurons in fluorescence microscopy images.


PROJECT: Tests of human-like cognition in artificial intelligence

Professor Blake Richards

In this project we will build “video games” for both humans and artificial intelligence (AI) agents to “play.” We will use these games to test for some of the cognitive capabilities that humans and animals have (such as the ability to remember what you did when), and then examine how AI agents are or are not capable of passing these tests.

Student responsibilities: The student will be required to use SilicoLabs (https://www.silicolabs.ca/) to create little games/puzzles that people can solve but which will be difficult for current AI systems.

Prerequisites: Some knowledge of computer programming, even just the basics, would be important.

Deliverable: We will develop specific tests/games that probe for an understanding of one’s past and the ability to identify key steps required to solve a problem/puzzle. If time allows, we will collect initial data demonstrating the difference between human and AI performance in these tests.

McGill Unit

McGill University Library

 

Michael David Miller, Eamon Duffy and Katherine Hanz

McGill University Library advances teaching, learning, research and community service by providing outstanding collections, access to the world of knowledge, excellence in service and an appropriate library environment, all of which are user-focused and responsive to the needs of the McGill community.

An internship at the McGill Library will provide students with the opportunity to explore academic librarianship by partnering with one of the library’s four main units: User Services, Digital Initiatives, Collection Services, and Rare & Special Collections, Osler, Art and Archives (ROAAr).

Over the course of their 8-week internship, students will have the opportunity to learn about, and work on projects in one or more of the following areas. Specific projects will be designed to best suit the interests and skills of candidates, along with the availability of librarian supervisors.

  • Information Literacy and Research Assistance: instruction, reference services, and creation of user guides
  • Collection Development: resource discovery and collection promotion, including exhibits and displays
  • User Outreach: communication and orientation
  • Knowledge Synthesis: literature, systematic, scoping and other reviews
  • Scholarly Communication: copyright, data management and open access
  • Knowledge Equity and the Free Knowledge Movement: Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource
  • Digital Scholarship: digital publishing, data visualization, concept mapping, digital pedagogy, text analysis
  • Inovation Commons: 3D printing, one button recording studio, virtual reality
  • Digital Libraries: digitization and digital preservation
  • Exploration of traditional knowledge labelling in order to increase visibility and access to collection materials
  • Collection Services: Connecting students and faculty to resources for their teaching, learning and research, including acquiring them, cataloguing them, and borrowing them from other institutions.

 

Law

Please select from one of the following two projects:

 

Projet 1: La réconciliation sur le terrain : les premières nations, l’environnement et les allochtones

 

Professor Sébastien Jodoin

Nous étudierons la coopération entre les différents acteurs impliqués dans des projets visant la protection des rivières situées sur le Nitassinan de Ekuanitshit/en Minganie. Nous nous intéresserons plus spécifiquement à des projets de protection des rivières qui sont portés en collaboration par les Innu de Ekuanitshit, la MRC de Minganie, les groupes environnementalistes et Hydro-Québec (dans le cas de la rivière Romaine uniquement). Plus spécifiquement, nous étudierons les cas de la reconnaissance de la personnalité juridique à Mutehekau shipu (rivière Magpie) et au projet de protection de la Société saumon de la rivière Romaine. De manière générale, nous chercherons tout d’abord à savoir : (1) est-ce que ces projets de gouvernance environnementale s’inscrivent dans un processus de « réconciliation transformatrice » ? Si tel est le cas, l’analyse des éléments qui permettent ou favorisent cette coopération pourrait être utile à la mise en œuvre à plus grande échelle d’un véritable projet de réconciliation sur le territoire aujourd’hui appelé Canada. (2) Nous chercherons donc dans un deuxième temps à identifier les fondements qui rendent cette coopération/réconciliation possible.

Student responsibilities: L’étudiant-e participera à la collecte et à l’analyse d’entrevues et des documents primaires et secondaires qui se rapportent aux perspectives et traditions des Innus de Ekuanitshit vis-à-vis la protection des rivières et leur coopération avec des allocthones.

Prérequis: La capacité à comprendre le français écrit et parlé est essentielle pour ce projet.

La connaissance de la langue et la culture Innu est un atout.

Livrable: Le livrable principal sera la rédaction d’un rapport.

 

Project 2: Health discrimination in Canada

 

Professor Sébastien Jodoin

A growing body of research shows that a significant number of Canadians experience various forms of discrimination in the context of health care in Canada. Women, racialized and Indigenous people, LGBTQ+ people, the elderly, people with disabilities, people who use drugs, and obese people face barriers in accessing health services, diagnostic tests and treatment. Their views and symptoms are often taken less seriously by health professionals. They are more likely to be exposed to physical, verbal and sexual abuse in health facilities and institutions.

This project will take stock of the role that the human rights system in Canada has and should play in addressing the problem of discrimination in health care systems. We will conduct systematic qualitative and quantitative analysis of all health care decisions rendered by provincial human rights bodies over the past decade. Our coding will capture data on the identity(ies) of the complainant (woman, elderly, etc.), the nature of the alleged discrimination (denial of care, underfunding, etc.), the subject of the complaint (government, hospital, etc.), and the outcome of the complaint (success or failure and type of remedy). We will analyse this data by examining and comparing outcomes over time and across provinces. We will also compare our results with population and stigma data across Canada to identify similarities or differences that may reveal barriers to access to justice for victims of health-related discrimination. Finally, we will also conduct a quantitative analysis of our findings to establish relationships between the number and type of complaints and the legal and policy context of each province's health care system. In this way, our results will shed new light on the phenomenon of health discrimination in Canada and how it is addressed by the courts and human rights bodies.

Student responsibilities: The student will be part of a team collecting, reviewing, and analysing data. The student will also assist with putting together a review of the literature on this topic.

Student prerequisites: Experience using excel is necessary.

Skills in quantitative research are an asset.

Deliverable: Development of a dataset and drafting of a literature review.

 

Music

Single Interface for Music Score Searching and Analysis (SIMSSA)

 

Professor Ichiro Fujinaga

To create software workflow environment to create a web interface for music score searching and analysis. Student responsibilities: Maintain and improve existing music score processing software. The student will work with another student (pair programming) to develop software we use for optical music recognition workflow. Student prerequisites: Computer programming background (Python or JavaScript) Deliverable: A new version of music score processing software

 

 

Management

The impact of COVID pandemic on corporate social responsibility

 

Professor Dongyoung Lee

This project investigates the economic impact of COVID pandemic on corporate social responsibility, specifically focusing on changes in public companies’ philanthropic contributions in the post-pandemic period. On the one hand, the pandemic has exerted a negative shock to firm performance in certain industries, such as airline, hotel, and tourism sectors. Firms from these hard-hit industries may have to curtail their pre-existing corporate giving programs as they are cash-strapped due to economic lockdown. On the other hand, other companies have made charitable contributions to help local communities amid the global pandemic. For example, Google.org donated over $1 billion to COVID relief efforts through 17 gifts in total during the year of 2020. Against the backdrop, this project aims to examine firm characteristics, corporate cultures, and governance practices associated with top managers’ decision to increase or decrease corporate giving activities in the aftermath of COVID pandemic. This will enhance a better understanding of economic and non-economic determinants of significant changes in corporate philanthropy over the recent period.

Student responsibilities:
(1) Reading academic literature and providing feedback
(2) Searching and summarizing related anecdotes and real-life examples
(3) learning and collecting corporate governance, charitable giving, and financial data related to the project
(4) helping to organize initial data analyses for a preliminary report.

Student prerequisites: It is preferrable if the student has strong motivations to pursue a graduate research program in accounting, finance, or management.

 


 

  • Please contact impress [at] mcgill.ca for more information on the program.
  • Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations for any part of the application process may contact, impress [at] mcgill.ca

Download the postcard

   Cree    English/French    Inuktitut    Mohawk


FAQ

Will I be paid?

Yes! Each participating IMPRESS intern receives a $5,000 stipend for their work.

 

Will I receive credits for participating?

No, however, each intern will receive a letter of recommendation for their time as an intern.

 

I’m not from Montreal, but I want to participate, is there money for travel and accommodation?

Although each situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, we do not want travel and accommodation to be a barrier to your participation. Please contact impress [at] mcgill.ca to discuss your circumstances.

 

What kind of opportunities are available?

Please follow the link on ‘how to apply’ — each host project is posted there for you to review.

 

When do I find out if I’m accepted?

All applicants will be contacted by May 15th, 2022 with a decision regarding their candidacy.

 

How can I sign up to be a host or Indigenous graduate student mentor?

Please contact us at impress [at] mcgill.ca

 

I’m a recently admitted student, am I still eligible?

Yes, absolutely. All Indigenous undergraduate students registered at a post-secondary institution in Quebec are eligible.


McGill University is on land that long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst
Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge
and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which
peoples of the world now gather.
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