Saskatchewan

Orientation helps Sask. Aboriginal students prepare for university

A collaboration between the First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina has given Aboriginal students a head start at academic life.

Goal is to keep students from getting lost and feeling confused on their first day

First Nations University of Canada in Regina. (Jacob Morgan/CBC)

A collaboration between the First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina has given Aboriginal students a head start at academic life.

Robyn Morin, the coordinator for the Student Transition and Retention program at FNUC, helped organize the 101 Orientation last week.

"We familiarize them with campus, help them navigate through campus and also too, [give] them some really foundational knowledge of what it really means to be a student."

Students are shown how to get student cards, they are given tours of the campus and they can take seminars on time management and budgeting.

Students gather for the first day of the 101 Orientation at the First Nations University of Canada. (First Nations University of Canada/Twitter)

"We want to ensure that they feel comfortable, going into this new change in their life. Being a university student is very unique and it comes with a lot of changes people aren't necessarily aware of," Morin said.

Students Whitney Wolfe and Keisha Cook were kept busy this summer planning the orientation and reminding students to register.

"We wanted to have some fun and have some icebreakers. But we also wanted to incorporate how important it is to participate in the orientation and understand what they are going into," said Wolfe, a second year psychology student.

Near the end of the second day of orientation, many students felt prepared to start classes.

My very first day I didn't even want to be here. I was scared. I didn't think I was ready.- Keisha Cook

"It has been very helpful," first-year student Arianna Falkenstein said. "If I didn't have any of this I probably wouldn't be able to get through the first semester without being super-stressed. It does make me really excited to get into my studies and focus on my goal." 

Accomplishing dreams

Fourth-year student Keisha Cook said she wishes she would have attended orientation for her first year.

"My very first day I didn't even want to be here. I was scared. I didn't think I was ready. I was intimidated and I didn't know what program I wanted to go into," Cook said.

Cook eventually chose to go into the indigenous social work program. University has made her: more confident, a better public speaker and able to get one step closer to the career she hopes to do for the rest of her life, she said.

"I'm excited to finish and see where life's going to take me and how I'm going to go out there and help people."

For 12 years, Farris Redwood has been stuck working minimum wage jobs. But he's about to return to school. Although he's nervous to return back to university, he hopes it will open up his career opportunities.

"I applied for jobs in the past, and I was overlooked because I had no post-secondary education," Redwood said.  

A lack of job opportunities also motivated Whitney Wolfe to start her university career a year ago. She was fed up with odd hours and wanted a career that was dedicated to helping people. 

"I feel like I need to be here because education is so important if you want to get further in life, and I just want to figure out who I am," Wolfe said.

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