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UCalgaryCares group plans trip to the Yukon

By Kiana Negahdari, March 28 2017 —

Seventeen University of Calgary students will travel to the Yukon Territory this spring to participate in community service work with the Arctic Institute of North America.

The students will spend 10 days in mid-June at the Kluane Lake Research Station in Burwash Landing, working with the region’s indigenous community. The group will also have the chance to learn from local elders and experience life in northern Canada.

The annual trip is run by UCalgaryCares, a program created by the Leadership and Student Engagement office (LSE). Students were selected for the trip in October 2016 and participated in pre-service workshops throughout March.

“These [workshops] are to help students get to know some of the background and start to understand the indigenous ways of knowing and history,” LSE service learning coordinator Alycia Lauzon said. “The students have already done several workshops — they have also done level one and level two of [Non-Abusive Psychological and Physical Intervention] training and will complete level three while they’re in the Yukon.”

U of C indigenous student recruiter Tessa Bailey helped organize the annual trip. She says each year has a different focus.

“Every year we do different tasks and projects as per the request of the communities,” Bailey said. “We’ve done everything from assisting in the dismantling of a log house, offering help at a fishing derby, helping clean fish at a traditional fish camp, painting [and] assisting elders with tasks in their gardens.”

The program fee is $2,150 per student. However, the initiative is supported by a Quality Money grant that allows students to apply for bursaries that cover up to half of the fee. The Quality Money grant also supports additional costs of the program including honorariums for elders and other guest speakers. There are also bursaries and grants available specifically to indigenous students.

A silent auction will be held at the Community Wise Resource Centre on 12th Ave. on March 31 to help fund the trip.

The annual program first started in 2014. Lauzon said it’s important for the program to have longevity.

“It takes time to build those community connections and respect and trying to navigate that partnership. It was important to us that we would make at least a three-year commitment to the community,” she said.

Lauzon added that the partnership is important considering the U of C is located on Treaty 7 territory.

“We’re having a deeper appreciation and recognition of indigenous ways of knowing and trying to understand the culture that exists in our own backyard,” she said. “Incorporating that into education is really important in helping students be ambassadors in the community.”

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