Langara College Initiatives Provide Support for Indigenous Students at Langara College
Snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College is reducing barriers to online education for Indigenous learners through the Gathering Space Online Student Support Program (GSOSSP).
In March 2020, Langara’s ~300 Indigenous students were among 2.12 million students across Canada who made the shift to online learning. The move online eliminated access to the Gathering Space, a safe space on campus for Indigenous students, resulting in a stressful learning experience and a reduced sense of community. The GSOSSP addresses these urgent needs through three supports:
- Developed a Learning Strategist program to provide Indigenous learners with one-on-one support to develop their organizational and study skills in a post-secondary environment. The strategist supports students through weekly meetings and develops individualized learning programs to help them achieve their academic goals.
- Established a laptop lending library to address a lack of access to computers. This pilot project has made laptops available for loan on a short-term or long-term basis.
- Implementing an online career readiness course supplemented with one-on-one support. The program’s seven learning modules, delivered over seven weeks, can be completed at a student’s own pace and within one semester.
With funding from RBC Foundation, these program areas offer online help, learning tools, and access to technology for online learning. They provide Indigenous students the opportunity to work with a learning strategist to build long-term and sustainable study habits and improve communication, time management, and soft skills that could effectively reduce the impacts of school-related stresses.
The learning strategist will transition to in-person support as the College returns to primarily on-campus activities this fall. The GSOSSP will also provide one-on-one training and access to a seven-week online career preparation course to equip learners with tools to seek employment leading to career readiness.
“I’m thrilled that our learning strategist, Jamilee Baroud, is having a positive impact with our Indigenous learners. Our laptop lending library has also been a successful addition, providing computer access to our Indigenous students,” said Yusuf Varachia, Vice-President, External. “These supports have been vital to fill the gaps our students experienced when the Gathering Space could no longer operate in-person programs. I look forward to seeing more student success as a result of this programming in the coming year.”