VIU summer camp to help ease transition into university or college for Indigenous students

By Spencer Sterritt
July 13, 2017 - 11:39am

VIU alumni Morgan Mowatt, Elder-in-Residence Gary Manson and program coordinator Troy Barnes are looking forward to welcoming Indigenous youth to VIU for a summer camp this August.VIU

NANAIMO — Making the switch from living at home to living on campus for school can be a challenge, which is why a new VIU summer camp wants to prepare Indigenous students thinking about post-secondary education far in advance.

The Thuy'she'num Tu Smun'eem summer camp, running from Aug. 11 to 14 at VIU's Nanaimo campus, wants to help any Indigenous students from Grades 8 to 12 dip their toes into university waters before diving head first into their studies in a few years.

Program coordinator and recent VIU graduate Troy Barnes told NanaimoNewsNOW the idea for the summer camp came from the uncomfortable experience he and other coordinators shared when they first left their homes.

“All of us have a story of the struggles of academia, the struggles of going to university. One of the biggest takeaways we noticed was the importance of finding our voice and the importance of telling your story in a public way.”

There's space for 25 students at the camp, with roughly 10 spots still available. Over the four days, the students will dorm at VIU and get a sense of what it's like to be on campus, while also doing activities and in-class work to help celebrate their culture in a different setting.

“During the camps, (the students) will get to learn what it's like to be away from their families in a year or two, so when it comes time to think about what to do after high school, they'll know they can handle the change of leaving.”

Barnes, a member of the Klahoose Nation with Homalco roots, said he struggled with the vast change from Powell River to Victoria the first time he tried going to university.

“I struggled to adapt to the City life. I can only imagine what it feels like to leave the smaller community of a reservation,” he said. “I think a lot of Indigenous youth are raised by the family, so when it comes time to go to university, they're leaving behind an entire community. In our summer camp we're really just trying to get their feet wet with leaving home and getting that little bit of city experience under their belt.”

The summer camp is possible with a $300,000 grant from the Peter Cundill Foundation, which is enough to fund the summer camp for three years.  


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