How Infinite Reach Came to Be

According to a 2011 publication by Statistics Canada only 35% of Indigenous people in Canada obtain a post-secondary education accreditation such as a degree, diploma, or certificate. This number stands in contrast to non-Indigenous people who have a post-secondary accreditation rate of 51%. While 23% of non-Indigenous people have university degrees, only 9% 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 Indigenous learners, as well as increasing the success rate of Indigenous people in postsecondary education.[2] In March, 2011 the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) 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 MNO 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]

Traditional Métis Knowledge Sharing

Throughout Métis history the survival of our culture relied on the ability of community members with specific knowledge in trading, canoeing, food preparation, hunting, languages and medicines to share these skills with those less experienced in certain areas. It was recognized that through the reciprocal sharing of lived experiences, even commonplace events could provide insight and wisdom. Today, the future of the Métis Nation relies on the same principles of knowledge sharing that have always been a part of our culture. While attending post-secondary education many Métis students are separated from their families and may feel culturally invisible. The MNO Infinite Reach Program provides the sense of community necessary for Métis students to maintain healthy and positive identities.

High School Outreach

The MNO Infinite Reach Network recognizes that many Métis high school students are not aware of the various post-secondary opportunities available to them once they graduate. This is often because of the lack of Métis role models who are currently completing postsecondary. An integral part of the MNO Infinite Reach Network is to ensure that Métis high school students can accomplish the transition to post-secondary studies knowing they will be supported by members of the Metis community. To achieve this, MNO Infinite Reach facilitators will be involved in information outreach to high schools throughout Ontario and serve as role models by sharing their own journey to postsecondary education. In this way the MNO Infinite Reach Network hopes to support and inspire students to realize their full potential.

[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.