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Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
August 15, 2011

Provincial Funding Supports Aboriginal Student Services at MUN

Memorial University will be able to move forward with plans to strengthen Aboriginal student programming and services, thanks to a $656,000 Provincial Government investment in the university’s Aboriginal Resource Office (ARO).

“This funding will enable continued operations of Memorial’s Aboriginal Resource Office, formerly known as the Native Liaison Office, over the next three years,” said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education. “It is important that the university be able to reach out to Aboriginal students throughout the province; advise them of the post-secondary opportunities available to them, and to continue to provide the supports they need in order to facilitate their success.”

The Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, has first-hand knowledge of how difficult it can be for Aboriginal students to adjust to post-secondary life.

“Many Aboriginal students come from rural and isolated communities and I know from personal experience that it can be especially challenging at first when going away to a post-secondary institution,” said Minister Pottle, who was the first graduate of Memorial’s Bachelor of Education (Native and Northern Studies) degree program. “An Aboriginal Resource Office provides vital support to students as they familiarize themselves within new surroundings and cope with the stress that can come with moving away from one’s community and culture.”

Gary Kachanoski, Memorial University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the funding to continue operations of the ARO.

“This will enable the university to focus on the development of many of the recommendations put forward by our Task Force on Aboriginal Initiatives,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “These initiatives are designed specifically to enhance the success of Memorial’s Aboriginal student population.”

ARO co-ordinator Sheila Freake said she is delighted with the support.

“These funds will allow us to continue to conduct effective outreach with Aboriginal communities, raise awareness within the K-12 system and to bring Aboriginal youth on campus to expose them to Memorial and post-secondary education,” said Ms. Freake, who, as part of the mandate of the ARO, travels to Aboriginal communities. “We have found that attendance and retention at Memorial generally increases among students with whom we have made a personal connection. With this funding in place, we hope to continue that upward trajectory to attract even more post-secondary Aboriginal students.”

The ARO, which is headquartered at the St. John’s campus, is operated by Student Success Programs within the Department of Student Affairs and Services at Memorial University. Its mandate is to provide programs and support services to Aboriginal students; create a welcoming community, and assist in the adjustment to university. The office also acts as a liaison with Aboriginal communities and strives to educate the university community about the presence and diversity of Aboriginal cultures at Memorial University.

The full report of the Presidential Task Force on Aboriginal Initiatives is available on the Memorial University website at www.mun.ca/president/Aboriginal_Task_Force_Report.pdf.

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Media contacts:

Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 697-5061
Ivan Muzychka
Associate Director (Communications)
Memorial University of Newfoundland
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762

2011 08 15                            10:05 a.m.

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