1. Student Recruitment and Retention - In Progress

1. Target-Setting (immediate term)

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).

Progress

  • 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.
  • The Faculty of Law is working to develop an Indigenous Admissions Advisory Panel to review BCL/JD applicants.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 4 October 2022

2. Funding (medium term)

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.

Progress

  • 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).
  • The Office of First Nations Integrated Education (OFNIE) received a combined total of over $320,000 for funding of in-community delivery of the Masters of Arts: Education and Society and Certificate in Education for First Nations and Inuit programs.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 18 October 2022

4. Outreach to Community Services (medium term)

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).

Progress

  • 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.
  • The Faculty of Law expanded the Law Éducation Connexion (L.E.X) program for the 2021-22 academic year in partnership with Connected North, to provide virtual programming to First Nations and Inuit communities. The program facilitates workshops, sharing circles, and community outreach with First nations and Inuit Communities to engage with prospective and current Faculty of Law Students.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 18 October 2022

5. Facilitating Access (immediate, medium, and long term)

The Task Force calls on our University to expand access to McGill, learning from existing programs at Canadian postsecondary institutions. 

Progress 

  • 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.
  • The Faculty of Engineering's Youth Action and Outreach Program creates connections that draw explicit pathways between higher education and high schools, including the Kahnawà:ke Survival School. Multiple opportunities for engagement are offered to McGill undergraduate and graduate students of diverse identities, including Indigenous students from AISES.
  • In Summer 2022, the Office of First Nations Integrated Education prepared a 24- transfer credit pathway for graduates of the Ratiwennenhá:wi Adult Immersion Program in partnership with the Mohawk Language Custodian Association, the Kanehsatà:ke Cultural Centre, and McGill’s Enrolment Services.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 18 October 2022

6. Outreach to Indigenous Communities (medium term)

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

Progress

  • 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.
  • This year, Branches at Enrolment Services in collaboration with partners across the University have launched McGill's Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students (IMPRESS) program. 
  • In addition to Call to Action #5, the Faculty of Engineering's Youth Action and Outreach Program also addresses Call to Action #6 by creating connections that draw explicit pathways between higher education and high schools, including the Kahnawà:ke Survival School. Multiple opportunities for engagement are offered to McGill undergraduate and graduate students of diverse identities, including Indigenous students from AISES.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 24 October 2022

7. Communication for Recruitment (immediate term)

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.

Progress

  • 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 for prospective Indigenous Students.
  • 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.

Next Steps

  • Development of a communication strategy with community radio programs.

Last Updated: 24 October 2022

8. K-12 Outreach and Collaboration (long term)

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).

Progress

  • Enrolment Services expanded the Homework Zone program to four schools: H.S. Billings High School, Karonhianonhnha, St. Willibrord, and Kahnawake Survival School.
  • Enrolment Services also created the ChangeMakers Indigenous Youth Symposium and Program to introduce Homework Zone students to the Engineering Design Cycle problem-solving methodology and to McGill.
  • 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.
  • In addition to Call to Action #5 and #6, the Faculty of Engineering's Youth Action and Outreach Program also addresses Call to Action #8 by creating connections that draw explicit pathways between higher education and high schools, including the Kahnawà:ke Survival School. Multiple opportunities for engagement are offered to McGill undergraduate and graduate students of diverse identities, including Indigenous students from AISES.
  • The Indigenous Health Professions Program hosts Eagle Spirt Sciences Futures, a day camp featuring science teachings from an Indigenous perspective and land-based pedagogies.  

Last Updated: 24 October 2022

10. Recruitment to Graduate Studies (medium term)

The Task Force calls on our University to open pathways to graduate studies (inspired by McMaster’s Indigenous Summer Research Scholars Program (IUSRS)).

Progress

  • Enrolment Services collaborated with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to ensure that graduate program offices are prioritizing review of Indigenous applicant files appropriately.
  • This year, the Faculty of Engineering launched the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum fellowship to help recruit and support Black and Indigenous students.
  • The Office of First Nations and Inuit Education created a new pathway for graduate students at McGill, by offering an in-community Master's Program through its partnership with the Listuguj Education Training and Employment Directorate. Presently, eleven Mi’gmaq students are following the program.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Last Updated: 24 October 2022

12. Wrap-Around Support Services

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).

Progress

  • 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 counsellor and developed a direct referral process for Indigenous students to access the counsellor. In 2019, the counsellor was scheduled one day per week in the First Peoples' House in order to better serve the wellness needs of Indigenous students.
  • The Faculty of Law provides support for Indigenous Law students from the Assistant Dean, and the BIPOC Counsellor/Therapist (vacant). They provide one-on-one counselling services, serve as a resource and service guide and acts as a faculty advisor for students. In Winter 2021, the BIPOC Counsellor/Therapist facilitated bi-weekly support groups. 

Units

  • First Peoples' House + Career & Planning Services + Scholarships & Student Aid + Tutorial Services + Office for Students with Disabilities

  • First Peoples' House + Student Wellness Hub

  • Faculty of Law 

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

13. Financial Aid (immediate and medium term)

The Task Force calls on our University to improve financial support for Indigenous students through the following measures:

  • Adjust cost structures for Indigenous students, for example, by allocating automatic awards for new and returning students, while establishing a clear and equitable self-identification model to support these measures (medium term);
  • Create a fund to award scholarships for special opportunities, e.g. summer undergraduate research in labs (including STEM programs) with flexible eligibility criteria (immediate term);
  • Ensure Indigenous student recruitment and retention is a key focus for the next University Advancement fundraising campaign, to create new undergraduate and graduate funding opportunities and to expand services to Indigenous students, including those within STEM programs (medium term);
  • Consider implementing a student funding model similar to the Haudenosaunee Promise at Syracuse University, which provides tuition and mandatory fee waivers for Indigenous learners from proximate territories, and was created “to recognize Syracuse University’s gratitude and appreciation for the historical, political, and cultural legacies of the Haudenosaunee, and to honour the bond that has developed between them” (medium term);
  • Take concrete steps toward the provision of waivers of tuition and mandatory fees for all Indigenous students enrolled at McGill (medium term).

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

Progress

  • Since the Fall of 2018, the Scholarships & Student Aid Office has dedicated bursaries for McGill's annual Hot Cities of the World Tour for Indigenous students.
  • As of 2018-2019, the University piloted a partnership with Indspire, an Indigenous-led registered charity. McGill contributes $200K annually to Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures Program to create a First Year Award for Indigenous undergraduates in support of recruitment efforts, and need-based bursaries for Indigenous students pursuing a degree program in support of retention efforts. The award grants $2000 for Indigenous students entering any McGill Undergraduate program including Law (BCL&LLB), Medicine (MDCM), and Dentistry (DMD). 
  • Thanks to a dollar-for-dollar match by the federal government, Indspire reported an increase of 31% more McGill student recipients receiving 250% more award dollars, and meeting 72% of all financial need as compared to 21% pre-pilot. Quebec recipients are affiliated to Kahnawá:ke, Listuguj, Timiskamin and Nation Huronne Wendat. First Nations, Métis and Inuit students are all represented within McGill’s recipients. Students come from provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. Over the four years of the program, there have been 245 bursaries distributed for a total of $1,651,800.
  • When considering the Indspire awards and bursaries co-funded by the University, and the bursaries resulting from applications to McGill’s own financial aid programs, the number of Indigenous students receiving financial support processed by the Scholarships & Student Aid Office has increased by 390% at the end of 2020/21 as compared to 2017-2018.
  • As of September 2021, there are 18 donor-based bursary funds dedicated to Indigenous students (including those more broadly available to students facing systemic barriers which include Indigenous students). Furthermore, Indigenous students receive priority funding consideration for programs such as Perseverance Award funding by Quebec Ministry of Education or Enriched Educational Opportunity bursaries such as Hot Cities of the World Tour and Field Courses in Indigenous communities.

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

15. Student Mentorship (medium term)

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.

Progress

  • 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. The program is ongoing.
  • The Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative and the Indigenous Studies program provides financial aid for BRANCHES' Pick Your Path program, providing learning experiences for Indigenous summer students between the ages of 16 and 25. The program was held in-person this year. 

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

16. Program Delivery (medium term)

The Task Force calls on our University to advance the development of a variety of academic program delivery options that reflect the diverse needs of Indigenous students (urban, rural, on- and off-reserve, parents, work responsibilities). These may include community-based, online, on- or off-campus, cohort-based, intensive (e.g., two-week), certificate or summer programs. To this end, it will be essential to seek input from Indigenous communities as to the programs they need.

Progress

  • In 2015, the School of Continuing Studies launched the Certificate in Indigenous Business Management and the Certificate in Information Systems (now called the Certificate in Computers and Information Technology) in collaboration with the Cree communities of Chisasibi and Waswanipi. The Certificate program was developed with Indigenous adult learners in mind, as well as accessibility for remote communities and collaborative development with community partners. The School of Continuing Studies has since developed the following programs through its Indigenous Relations Initiative
    • Certificate - Public Administration and Governance (Online)
    • Diploma - Public Administration and Governance (Online)
    • Certificate - Health and Social Services Management
    • Diploma - Health and Social Services Management
    • Indigenous Business Management (Online)
    • Computers and Information Technology (Online)
  • The Office of First Nations and Inuit Education (OFNIE) currently partners with First Nations and Inuit education authorities throughout Quebec-including the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, the school board of Nunavik, the Cree School Board, the Kahnawà:ke and Kanehsatà:ke education centres, and the Central Quebec School Board on behalf of the Naskapis of Kawawachikamach-to deliver community-based teacher education programs and professional development. More information on these programs can be found on their website
  • The School of Continuing Studies and the School of Social Work are currently collaborating in the design of an in-community Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program in Nunavik.

Next Steps 

  • OFNIE will be expanding their in-community based learning programs to include: a new Certificate in Education for First Nations and Inuit delivery in Kawawachikamach (Fall 2021 launch) a Master of Arts, Education and Society delivery in Listuguj (Winter 2022 launch) and a new Certificate in Education for First Nations and Inuit delivery in Kanehsatà:ke (Fall 2022 launch).

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

17. Graduate Studies (medium term)

The Task Force calls on our University to enhance its graduate studies curricula by emphasizing Indigenous ways of knowing within all disciplines.

It further calls on our University to respond to the need for greater funding opportunities to be made available to Indigenous students seeking to pursue graduate education, accompanied by transparent and clear information about eligibility about that funding and how to access it.

Progress

  • Graduate and Postdoctoral studies now offers the Indigenous Graduate Excellence Recruitment Fellowship, a non-renewable financial award for self-identified Indigenous students in graduate degree programs. The award is valued at $10,000 for PhD students, $5,000 for Master's (Thesis) students, and $2,500 for Master's (Non-thesis) students.
  • The Faculty of Engineering awarded its first Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship in 2021, and has selected two new recipients for the 2022-23 academic year. The fellowship aims to increase representation, financial support, mentorship, and community-wide support for Indigenous and Black graduate students in Engineering.

Last Updated: 2 November 2022

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