The first project to receive a Catapult Canada grant through the Access Innovation Fund is Northern Youth Abroad (NYA), whose goal is to support northern youth to successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education and to acquire fulfilling careers through culturally relevant pathways. The COVID-19 pandemic led NYA to pursue virtual learning opportunities to support a promising group of northern youth as they advance along their respective learning journeys.
In the fall of 2020, NYA approached Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, to explore the possibility of offering a bridging program for northern, Indigenous youth supporting virtual learning in participants’ home communities or potentially in one hub location. While remote learning can present a number of obstacles for northern youth (crowded housing, weak technical/internet infrastructure, isolation from other students and instructors) it also provides the opportunity to explore innovative ways to build relevant programming accessible from home.
This pilot project between NYA and Camosun College proposes to offer online class instruction in core academic subjects, as well as additional education supports like peer tutors, achievement coaching, and access to Elders. The first cohort, which began in March 2021, will support up to 14 Indigenous students from across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Students who successfully complete the program are guaranteed admission to Camosun College in September 2021, with transition supports to help students find housing, and a full orientation to the campus and its available resources.
Catapult Canada is delighted to provide a grant of $125,000 to support this innovative pilot project which will serve as a model for future community-based partnerships that provide new learning opportunities in the North.