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 Colleges & Universities released what is now the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education 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.

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 illustrated and reinforced the need for a culturally specific support network for Métis students. The Infinite Reach Student Solidarity Network seeks to specifically address the barriers identified by the Ministry Framework. MNO Infinite Reach facilitators are aware of academic services, cultural events and funding opportunities for Métis students. They also serve as visible Métis role models to other Métis learners. [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. 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 Infinite Reach Program provides a sense of community necessary for Métis students to maintain healthy and positive identities while on campus. An integral part of the Infinite Reach Network is to ensure that Métis high school students transition to post-secondary studies knowing they will be supported by members of the Métis community. 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.

[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.