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Heading west

By Michelle Osmond | June 19, 2013

Seven Memorial students are heading to British Columbia soon to check out graduate programs. In fact, Memorial students made up nearly half of the 15 Canadians chosen for the Indigenous Graduate Student Orientation program at the University of Victoria (UVic). It’s a fully funded, professional development program for indigenous fourth-year students, grad students and recent graduates.

The Memorial students are Andrea Andersen, Thomas Dymond, Matthew Hunt, Mason Jeddore, Anita Johnson-Henke, Lorraine O’Leary and Alexander White.

Mr. Dymond, who is from the Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia, is scheduled to graduate with a bachelor of kinesiology next year. He’s no stranger to campus involvement. He’s been the Aboriginal representative on Memorial's student union for the last two terms, is involved with the Aboriginal Resource Office, sits on the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, is a member of the Siawi-ta'nej council which addresses campus-wide Aboriginal issues, has acted as the vice-president of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation student society, and at one point was a strength coach for the varsity cross-country team.

“Although as a high school student I thought that a four year undergrad was a long time, it goes by surprisingly fast. For that reason I've gotten involved with as much on campus as possible. When I received an email for the opportunity to explore another school, I jumped at the opportunity instantly.”

Mr. Dymond says he is most looking forward to meeting with the faculty of exercise science at the University of Victoria to discuss what research and course opportunities are available and the cultural activities that the Office of Indigenous Affairs at UVic has planned. He likes that there are a lot of services available to Aboriginal students there.

“Some cultural activities planned include welcoming prayers from elders, a drum-making workshop with elders, and an elders talking circle. This will also give me the opportunity to experience many different Aboriginal cultures. I am Mi'kmaq from Nova Scotia and many of the B.C. tribe’s cultures differ from my own.”

According to Lalita Morrison, indigenous community liaison and outreach co-ordinator at UVIC, this is the second annual Indigenous Graduate Student Orientation program, which is funded by the Royal Bank of Canada.

“This is our last year of funding, but as last year was so successful for bringing indigenous students to come to campus and explore their graduate studies, we are again offering it this year. Students have a variety of workshops geared towards entering graduate studies, as well as an opportunity to meet with their faculty of choice.”

Mr. Dymond is seriously considering UVic’s master's in exercise science program. He also likes that there are a lot of services available to Aboriginal students at UVic.

While there, the students will stay on-campus in residence for four days, have campus tours, meet indigenous graduate students and faculty, and participate in a variety of graduate studies preparation workshops.