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Former Qualico Bridge to Success participants gather in Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge in early 2020.

Supporting Indigenous students starting their post-secondary journeys

Qualico Bridge to Success program applications now open

April 1, 2022 — 

The last time Tricia Caribou pursued a post-secondary education, it was in 2010, when her son was a toddler. Though it didn’t work out at the time, she returned to her studies as an adult learner when her son turned 15.

“I reached out to others who were starting school and joined as many programs as I could to situate myself in the community,” says Caribou, an Icelandic and Cree student from the Mathias Colomb and Riverton community.

One of those programs? The Qualico Bridge to Success (QBTS) program at the University of Manitoba (UM).

Developed by the Indigenous Student Centre, QBTS provides culturally based resources to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit students as they begin their post-secondary journeys at UM, including pre-orientation programming, academic learning support, advising and special events. For the past two years, the program took on a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is anticipated to start in-person programming again in September.

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Qualico Bridge to Success student Tricia Caribou

“I’m getting so much out of the QBTS program,” says Caribou, who is hoping to pursue a career in social work. “Applying to the program is such a good idea if you’re wondering what university life is going to be like.”

In addition to the resources offered through the program, QBTS helps build a sense of community for new students.

“The program has given me community – people I know I can talk to about anything, who have my back and will jump in when needed. They’re always ready to help or will know someone who can help me,” says Caribou. “I’ve needed support with everything from essay writing to talking to my band. It’s made me more confident to do it on my own. Previously, when [my academics] became too stressful, I’d want to leave – and I don’t want to leave now, even when I’m stressed.”

One of the main components of QBTS is the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program, where new and experienced Indigenous students are paired together to engage in a reciprocal process of sharing knowledge, skills and expertise. In this peer-mentor relationship, new students are supported through their transition into university life and experienced students can develop their leadership skills.

“What I’ll take away from QBTS and the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program are the relationships with the people I’ve met,” says Caribou. “Everyone is so down-to-earth, and the community is there for me.”

Registration for QBTS is now open. Interested applicants can contact the Indigenous Student Centre or the program coordinator, Desiree Morrisseau-Keesick, for any questions related to the application process. Please note: Prospective students will need to submit an application to the University of Manitoba and then proceed to apply to QBTS.

The Qualico Bridge to Success program at the Indigenous Student Centre is made possible thanks to the generous support of Qualico, a leader in real estate development based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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