The Task Force calls on our University to establish specific Indigenous enrolment, retention and graduation targets at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are reasonable and that are nuanced by information regarding patterns of enrolment of Indigenous students at McGill (e.g., their greater likelihood to be part-time):
- 1,000 Indigenous students enrolled at McGill by 2022 is an aspirational target;
- Undergraduate completion of a degree up to 8 years (instead of 4 or 6).
- Enrolment Services has reviewed the way that McGill identifies Indigenous students and are rectifying prior gaps through new processes and markers.
- Enrolment Services has developed an Indigenous Enrolment Strategy that breaks down enrolment by territory and program, to help guide where McGill should invest and prioritize, and which allows the University to build realistic growth projections and targets by geographic regions.
- Enrolment Services has established a three year strategic plan with the following high level pillars: Institutional alignment + Relationship building with Indigenous communities + Indigenous student success.
The Task Force calls on our University to systematically identify and apply for more sources of external funding (federal, foundations, provincial) to fund more extensive support services for Indigenous students.
- As part of the Indigenous Enrolment Strategy, Enrolment Services has identified sustainability as essential to McGill's work, in terms of keeping our promise to communities.
- To this end, Enrolment Services have made efforts to identify, apply for, and secure external funding. In May 2020, they were awarded a grant from the Sustainability Project Fund for the pilot version of Pick Your Path project which is the online adaptation of the Indigenous Mentorship Paid Research Experience (IMPRESS).
- In 2019, the Zeller Family Foundation allocated funding for the Change Makers Youth Symposium. Enrolment Services recently applied for renewed funding from the Zeller Family Foundation for the 2020 version called Change Makers Sandbox @ Homework Zone.
- Enrolment Services has identified the Quebec Ministry of Education as a potential funder for this program and would like to pursue this and other potential funding further in 2020-21.
The Task Force calls on our University to collaborate with external services available to Indigenous students in Montreal to support recruitment and retention (e.g., Cree School Board office in Montreal).
- Enrolment Services has established partnerships with the Cree School Board and Post-Secondary Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Program located at John Abbott, Journey's Program at Dawson College, Kiuna College and the School Board of Nunavik.
- Other partnerships include the following: Native Montreal, Urban Aboriginal Strategy Network, N'we Jinan, Native Women's Shelter, Quebec Indigenous Mentorship Network, Kahnawake Education Centre and Centre des premières nations de l'Université de Chicoutimi.
- Relationship building with Indigenous communities: The Branches team is committed to being a reliable partner in co-creating responsive and sustained relationships with First Nation, Inuit, and Metis youth, families, schools, and organizations.
- Journey McGill/Parcours McGill: Enrolment Services has reviewed the Indigenous admission process and instituted a new structure built around set calendar dates, to ensure that review of Indigenous applicants is prioritized in the admissions process and that Indigenous candidates get their offers earlier.
- Changing McGill's current admission practices to include Ontario colleges explicitly (in relevant academic programs, such as General Arts and Science) as a potential pathway to McGill for Indigenous students.
- Indigenous pathway programs: in order to establish explicit transition programs from specific high schools and CEGEPS to McGill, Enrolment Services has a government funded research project in collaboration with School for Continuing Studies to investigate the possibilities.
The Task Force calls on our University to extend the outreach to Indigenous communities to raise awareness about McGill opportunities by dedicating additional resources in order to recruit in a broader range of First Nation and Inuit communities throughout Quebec, Nunavik, Nunavut, and Ontario, notably:
- One additional Indigenous recruiter and $25,000 in additional travel funds
- Enrolment Services extended outreach and recruitment to a broader range of First Nation and Inuit communities, including Thunder Bay, Ontario; Long Lake #58 First Nation; Wemindji, Quebec; Mistissini, Quebec; and Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec
- The Pen Pal Project was created in partnership with Long Lake #58 First Nation and Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec. The Pen Pal Project connects Indigenous students with Indigenous McGill students or alumni through an exchange of letters.
- The goal of the program is to facilitate discussion and open a space for younger Indigenous students to ask questions to more experienced Indigenous students.
The Task Force calls on our University to devote resources to creating marketing and mentoring communication tools such as videos and radio advertisements that are culturally and linguistically relatable, including those that target Cree and Inuit audiences in their own languages.
To this end, the Task Force urges the creation of a video for prospective Indigenous students seeking information about the services and resources available to them at McGill University.
- Enrolment Services created marketing tools such as promotional postcards that were translated to Cree and Inuktitut for the IMPRESS (Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students) program.
- Branches created and revised the Indigenous Viewbook and created the Branches Indigenous Outreach Website.
- Branches also established partnerships with videographer Nicolas Gouin, Student Services, and the Faculty of Law to create a video for prospective Indigenous students in collaboration with McGill's Indigenous students.
- Development of a communication strategy with community radio programs.
The Task Force calls on our University to increase the enrolment of Indigenous students in university and efforts must begin much earlier than CEGEP. The transitions from primary school to high school to college and then to university represent potential barriers to progress. Students may require comprehensive support through each level to remain engaged. We recommend working closely with Indigenous communities to create transition and support programs to assist with those transitions. For example, enhance pre-high school outreach programs and communication materials to include more schools with significant Indigenous enrolment. In the immediate to medium term, McGill should:
- Extend the SEDE Homework Zone program to include more Indigenous communities near Montreal
- In addition, more recruiting should target younger age groups (immediate term); and
- Work with local educational stakeholders, such as Kiuna College to establish explicit educational pathways from high school, to CEGEP, to university (medium term).
- Enrolment Services and Branches created IMPRESS (Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students) for high school and CEGEP students, which provides an opportunity for Indigenous students to work as paid research assistants with a McGill professor during the summer. We have partnered with the Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Arts, and the Faculty of Science to host the Indigenous students and to provide funding.
- There is an Indigenous-specific outreach initiative run through the Faculty of Law's LEX program.
The Task Force calls on our University to open pathways to graduate studies (inspired by McMaster’s Indigenous Summer Research Scholars Program (IUSRS)).
- Enrolment Services collaborated with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to ensure that graduate program offices are prioritizing review of Indigenous applicant files appropriately.
- Enrolment Services plans, in the next two years, to extend the Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students (IMPRESS) program to undergraduate students in collaboration with university partners.
- Enrolment Services will develop Graduate recruitment trips around the Arts Undergraduate Society and Science Undergraduate Society graduate fairs in November 2020.
The Task Force calls on our University to establish a Proactive Accompaniment program: It is essential to provide academic, social, financial, and cultural support to the increasing number of Indigenous students who are recruited to McGill, retain them and support them through to graduation. The success of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill could serve as a model, offering academic, peer, financial, dedicated advising, and social support for Indigenous students that would support them throughout their time at McGill, including career services (i.e., replicate the MCF model, with modifications that are meaningful to the community, includes academic and cultural mentors).
- Since 2017, the First Peoples' House has improved its wrap-around support services by strengthening existing programs and establishing new ones within Student Services including monthly at Macdonald Campus.
- Additionally, the Student Wellness Hub hired a Kanien'keha:ka counselor and developed a direct referral process for Indigenous students to access the counselor. In 2019, the counselor was scheduled one day per week in the First Peoples' House in order to better serve the wellness needs of Indigenous students.
First Peoples' House + Career & Planning Services + Scholarships & Student Aid + Tutorial Services + Office for Students with Disabilities
First Peoples' House + Student Wellness Hub
The Task Force calls on our University to create a mentoring program that could include Indigenous alumni or faculty mentoring current Indigenous students one-on-one.
The Faculty of Law is holding preliminary meetings with the First Peoples' House and Alumni Relations to discuss an exclusively Indigenous mentorship program. The law faculty has provided a list of alumni to serve as potential program champions to the First Peoples' House. Currently, Indigenous students are paired with Indigenous mentors through the Faculty of Law’s LINK program.