The recent UBC Indigenous Summer Scholars Camp provided an opportunity for Aboriginal youth to generate a sense of belonging on campus, strengthen their relationship with the university and cultivate postsecondary aspirations.
The weeklong event, hosted by UBC Aboriginal Programs & Services (APS), drew 16 Aboriginal learners, aged 11-16 years, from the Central and North Okanagan. Aboriginal Student Advisor Anthony Isaac believes the camp enhances recruitment and retention initiatives within the UBC Aboriginal Strategic Plan.
“It’s vital for us to continually create opportunities to build relationships with Indigenous youth and foster a channel of communication as they transition through secondary school. It’s important for youth to meet other Indigenous students pursuing their dreams here at UBC Okanagan campus and hear their stories of how they got here. This experience solidifies the realization that they can achieve their visions of success.
“It’s our role within Aboriginal Programs and Services to nurture these visions,” added Isaac.
Participating faculties included were Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Nursing, Medicine, Social Work, Engineering and Heath and Exercise Studies. Faculty of Nursing Instructor Vinek was impressed with the level of the youth’s enthusiasm.
“It was wonderful to spend time sharing my love and passion for nursing with these young students. To see their interest in our program and give them an opportunity to work with our Human Patient Simulators was a great experience.”
Other areas of camp programming included a boot camp session in the Hanger, yoga, painting, hiking the Pine Trail, IT/media workshop and additional physical training on the synthetic soccer pitch with Motivate Canada representative Richelle Williams. Cultural events featured sharing circles, pow wow dancing, beading and storytelling with Okanagan Nation Elder Delphine Derickson.
“The camp was structured to reflect a holistic model where the academic sessions were balanced with cultural, social and physical activities,” said APS Director Adrienne Vedan.
With help from faculties on campus, professors and graduate students engaged the youth in activities like lab work, lectures, field work techniques and medical research.
“The youth’s excitement grew throughout the week as they were continuously in awe with the programs offered at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Many of the youth had never been to campus so it was eye opening for them to tour around university and experience what it would be like to be enrolled here,” said Isaac.
On the final day, participants were asked to fill out surveys anonymously about their experience. The feedback was positive as the youth appreciated the diversity of the camp and were hoping to return in 2014. Some of their post secondary interests were in chemistry, biology, human kinetics and nursing. Career goals ranged from being a pediatrician to an engineer.
The weeklong camp ended with a graduation dinner for the youth and their families.