How We Came to Be

According to a recent publication by Statistics Canada only 35 per cent of Aboriginal people obtained a postsecondary education accreditation such as a degree, diploma or certificate. This number stands in contrast to non-Aboriginal people who have a postsecondary accreditation rate of 51 per cent. While 23 per cent of non-Aboriginal people had university degrees, only 9 per cent of Métis people had graduated from university.[1] These findings indicate the need for programming designed to enhance the recruitment and retention of Métis post-secondary students.

In 2011, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities released the Aboriginal Post-secondary Education and Training Policy Framework. Among the goals of the framework were to increase the responsiveness of post-secondary institutions in meeting the needs of Aboriginal learners, as well as increasing the success rate of Aboriginal people in postsecondary education.[2] In March, 2011 the Métis Nation of Ontario Education and Training Branch facilitated a focus group of Métis post-secondary students to discuss the needs of Métis learners. Among the barriers to post-secondary education that the focus group identified were lack of funding, discrimination, lack of culturally appropriate spaces and student supports.

Compounding the barriers identified by the focus group is the lack of information Métis students have regarding available student services. In March, 2011 the Métis Nation of Ontario contracted Stonecircle Consulting to explore the existing barriers to post-secondary education for Métis learners. According to the report one third of Métis post-secondary students surveyed for the study were unaware of certain academic services, on-campus cultural events and available grants or bursaries.[3] While far from comprehensive, the finding illustrates the current state of campuses across Ontario and reinforces the need for a culturally specific support network for Métis students.

The creation of a program designed to ease the transition of Métis students to post-secondary can increase the likelihood of Métis learners achieving their academic objectives. The MNO Infinite Reach is a program that seeks to specifically address the barriers identified by the Ministry Framework and by Stonecircle’s report. MNO Infinite Reach facilitators will be aware of academic services, cultural events and funding opportunities for Métis students. They will also serve as visible Métis role models necessary for Métis post-secondary achievement.[4]

[1] Statistics Canada, “A Literature Review of Factors that Support the Successful Transition by Aboriginal People from K-12 to Postsecondary Education” (2011).

[2] Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (2011) Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Policy Framework, p. 16.

[3] Stonecircle Consulting up.(2011) Research on Effective Practices to Support Métis Learner’s Achievement and Self-Identification, p. 34.

[4] Stonecircle Consulting up, p. 22.