FNMI mentorship program aims to connect students with peer role models

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

Now in its second year, Lethbridge School District No. 51’s FNMI mentorship program hopes to build on the success experienced in 2015/2016.

Tuesday at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, FNMI students gathered for the first time in 2016/2017. Don Shade, a FNMI liaison with the District, said the goal is to have two students from every school involved in the mentorship, which aims to bring elementary, middle school and high school students together under one roof.

Shade added the relationships that form throughout the year aim to help younger students as they transition through different grade levels.

“They talk about success stories and do some activities while talking about what causes them to have success and what worked for them.”

Between 30-40 students will participate in the mentorship program throughout the year, as Shade mentioned the importance of having high school students deliver the message to their younger counterparts.

“Sometimes their teachers and parents can tell them all they want, but they don’t really understand it. Here, they can connect with someone who has had actual success who can say to them, ‘This is what I had to do, it’s not that hard and if I can do it, you can do it too.’ ”

Shade added the mentorship program drew rave reviews from parents and teachers alike last year, as students began to realize the importance of regular school attendance and getting homework completed in a timely manner.

The program also delivers some instruction in study skills, as Shade added one lesson younger students have learned is the importance of getting homework completed earlier in the day, while they’re still in school mode.

“Quickly do your homework and then you have the rest of the night off,” said Shade, who added younger students in the mentorship may also ask their high school counterparts personal academic questions. “They can also give tips about where they can go for help, and get them to understand that confidence in being able to ask for help and getting beyond that.”

Aside from the role-modelling aspect of the program, Shade added the mentorship initiative also aims to help FNMI students gain an appreciation for their culture.

“It’s also to bring out the positives in our culture, because there’s so many stereotypes of our culture out there in the mainstream.”

The mentorship students will meet together monthly. The culminating event for the year will be a field trip to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Date posted: Nov. 17, 2016