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North Bay's Canadore College Leading Ontario in Aboriginal Student Retention

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SOURCE Canadore College

NORTH BAY, ON, Jan. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadore College is leading Ontario in Aboriginal student retention and success and has been chosen by the Mental Health and Innovation Fund (MHIF) and Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to develop the first Aboriginal language-specific Mental Health First Aid program in Canada.

Together, Canadore, MHIF and MHCC are developing the first Aboriginal language-specific Mental Health First Aid program in Canada. The unique Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program encompasses the help network a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis receives. It aims to improve mental health literacy, and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing issues in themselves, a family member, friend or colleague.

"Canadore proudly celebrates an 80.6 per cent Aboriginal student retention rate," said Canadore College President George Burton. "This is well beyond the provincial average, and we work hard at it. We are pleased to play a leadership role in creating a welcoming environment where Aboriginal students choose to come, and choose to stay in pursuit of their education. Canadore's success with our Aboriginal students has led us to be recognized as leaders in this area, and we are eager to work with our partners to develop this unique Mental Health First Aid training program."

Nearly 20 percent of Canadore's total student population is of Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree Algonquin, Mohawk, Inuit or Métis decent from Ontario, Québec and nation-wide, one of the highest representations in the Ontario college system.

The Aboriginal community is the fastest-growing population in Canada and according to Health Canada, First Nations youth commit suicide about five to six times more often than non-Aboriginal youth.

Mary Wabano, Director of Canadore's First Peoples' Centre (FPC) and her team have been striving to find new ways to support mental health and wellness for Canadore's students.

"Our work at Canadore's First People's Centre (FPC) provides us with insights into the mental health challenges facing Aboriginal communities across Ontario and beyond. The new Mental Health First Aid program is an important step in providing new tools to help people in crisis," said Mary Wabano. "We were very pleased when Canadore's proposals to the Mental Health and Innovation Fund (MHIF) and Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) were approved - this program matters."

Work has already begun on translating the MHFA program materials into Cree and Ojibway, two of the most spoken Aboriginal languages in Ontario. In addition to the instruction manual translation, First Nation specific case studies are being compiled and Canadore employees are being trained to deliver the program and train other trainers. The goal is to have 12 qualified trainers ready to deploy the program in September 2014 in First Nations communities and to front line staff in Ontario's colleges and universities.

"Our Aboriginal communities are a key part of the future in Northern Ontario and across Canada," said George Burton. "Canadore College is proud to be a part of their journey through education and now through our partnership in the new Mental Health First Aid training program".

Aboriginal Student Life at Canadore College: Fast Facts

  • 450 Aboriginal learners, representing 20 per cent of total student population
  • 150 remain in their own community to study
  • Students of Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree Algonquin, Mohawk, Inuit or Métis decent from Ontario, Québec and nation-wide
  • Over 20 community-based programs are instructed across Ontario in partnership with five Aboriginal Education Institutes
  • 80.6 per cent Aboriginal student retention rate

About Canadore College
Located in North Bay, Ontario, Canadore College trains people through applied learning, leadership and innovation. Canadore provides access to over 65 full-time quality programs from aviation and avionics, to multi-media, to healthcare. Approximately 1,000 students graduate from Canadore every year, and they join 40,000 alumni working across the globe.

Nearly 20 percent of Canadore's total student population is of Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree Algonquin, Mohawk, Inuit or Métis decent from Ontario, Québec and nation-wide, one of the highest representations in the Ontario college system.

www.canadorecollege.ca

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