As a staff member working in the front lines of a public post-secondary institution, you spend key moments with Indigenous students as they prepare to enroll, look for assistance and services during their time in programs, and seek information for transition between programs and institutions. While service to students is paramount, there are critical times when you also:

  • Help Indigenous students feel a sense of welcoming and belonging
  • Share information to best inform their choices
  • Support their capacity to navigate the necessary systems
  • Refer them to supports that are culturally and situation specific
  • Help them move to the next stages of learning to meet their vision of success
  • Show compassion and actively listen during interactions
  • Support students so they feel confident to move onward

Since the release of the 1990 Green Report,[1] public post-secondary institutions across the province have sought to transform systems and processes to be inclusive and respect the diverse needs of Indigenous students and community educational partners. This strategy has also spread across the country; Colleges and Institutes Canada initiated the Indigenous Education Protocol[2] in 2014 and in 2015, Universities Canada released Principles on Indigenous Education[3] to support institutional structures and approaches to support Indigenous self-determination and strengthen relationships.

Many Indigenous students are first-generation learners at post-secondary institutions, and their interactions with front-line staff and service providers inform how they share their experience with their family and community. One negative experience can cause harm and mistrust. Positive experiences help Indigenous students feel respected and help to build their trust with staff and faculty. This can lead to future generations wanting to further their post-secondary education. This guide is an opportunity for you to better understand Indigenous students and to figure out ways both you and your area or department can work to ensure supportive student experiences. By pulling together we can facilitate student success and contribute to long-term improvements for all Indigenous students and communities.

  1. The “Green Report” is the Report of the Provincial Advisory Committee on Post-Secondary Education for Native Learners. It provided a comprehensive look at Indigenous training needs in post-secondary education and its 21 recommendations ranged from developing Indigenous advisory boards to providing culturally relevant student services for Indigenous students.
  2. Indigenous Education Protocol:
  3. Principles on Indigenous Education:


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Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Copyright © 2018 by Ian Cull; Robert L. A. Hancock; Stephanie McKeown; Michelle Pidgeon; and Adrienne Vedan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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