Within a generation, every Indigenous student will graduate.
It might not quite feel like it just yet, but Spring is coming…and with it, a whole host of amazing events and opportunities here at Indspire. We’ve definitely started 2021 in a good way – take a look! 
Indspire News
2021 Indspiring Change @ Home: Mike DeGagné & Shelagh Rogers

We’re happy to report that this year’s very first Indspiring Change @ Home event, Reconciliation Conversation(s), was a great success!

Held on February 18, it featured an insightful conversation between Mike DeGagné, President and CEO of Indspire, and award-winning journalist Shelagh Rogers, Chancellor of the University of Victoria and an Honorary Witness to the TRC’s hearings. Their extensive discussion spanned a wide variety of reconciliation-related issues and pondered some crucial questions: what has changed in the five years since the release of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Report – and what work still needs to be done? How can Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians work together to fulfill our collective reconciliation-related responsibilities? It was a great evening – and the recording is available online here!
Indspire Celebrates Roberta Jamieson

The Indspire family gathered virtually on February 24th to bid a fond farewell to Roberta Jamieson, outgoing President & CEO. Featuring the dynamic Stan Wesley as MC and with heartfelt video tributes from Indspire Laureates, corporate partners, board members, friends, & staff, the evening also contained amazing musical performances by Tom Wilson & iskwē and Theland Kicknosway! It was a wonderful celebration of the life-changing work that Roberta has done for Indigenous students over the years.

Guests also had the opportunity to donate to the newly-created Roberta Jamieson Emergency Fund for Indigenous Students. You managed to raise over $250,000 for Indigenous students who need support in the face of emergencies! If you’d also like to make a donation to the Fund, you can do that here.
Rivers to Success
Indspire’s Rivers to Success (R2S) Indigenous Student Mentorship Program is looking forward to an exciting – and busy – New Year! Facilitated through an online Portal, the R2S program features an innovative blend of one-on-one and group Indigenous mentorship as well as a wide array of customized and cultural resources to help Indigenous students succeed, organized in three streams:

  1.  High School – for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in Grs. 10-12
  2. Post-Secondary – for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students pursuing post-secondary studies OR Gr. 12 students who have been accepted to post-secondary studies after high school graduation
  3. Career Transition – for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students preparing to graduate and begin their careers

Highlights include:
Listening in Strength: Mentees Share Strategies for Good Mentorship 

We enjoyed another wonderful collaboration with our friends from Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada (BBBSC) on February 16th when we hosted Listening in Strength, a panel discussion featuring insights from four BBBSC and R2S mentees about what they need to succeed and feel supported in a mentoring relationship. It was a great afternoon full of good strategies, heartfelt advice, and useful tips! Thanks to everyone who participated.
Stay tuned for:
It’s going to be a busy Spring for our R2S mentors and mentees! We have some great events planned for March, and we’re also in the midst of developing some wonderful new resources which will be released then. We hope you’ll join us. Stay tuned for more info!
Group Mentorship with Michael Champagne
Michael Redhead Champagne will be joining us as R2S pilots its first group mentorship series with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. Our R2S team will be meeting with the students from February to June to discuss the seven teachings once a month with guest speakers and Knowledge Keepers. Michael will be discussing the teaching of LOVE. He has spent over two decades speaking out and leading by example, taking a hopeful and solution-oriented approach to youth engagement, facilitation, & community organizing. He enjoys writing, listening to revolution music and volunteering in Winnipeg’s North End.
Do you want to share your journey as an Indigenous mentor – or do you know of an Indigenous student who would benefit from the R2S program? Come and visit us here - or email us at rivers@indspire.ca.
Indspire Research Knowledge Nest
Indspire’s Research Knowledge Nest is beginning the New Year with big ideas! This ground-breaking new initiative is the first of its kind in Canada: an Indigenous-focused research incubator. Its mission is to improve Indigenous educational and employment outcomes through research and analysis – and to contribute to the development of a new generation of Indigenous analysts and researchers through its Research Assistant program.
Highlights include:
Finding the Path Reveals Surprising Results
Results are in from the Research Nest’s Finding the Path survey, which asked Indigenous post-secondary students how they’ve been experiencing education during the COVID-19 pandemic…and the results are intriguing. 3,195 students responded. Not only did over half the students report a pessimistic outlook regarding the future, 89% reported that they had experienced mental health strain over the past year. This points the way to an increased need for student supports as the 2021 school year continues. We’ll be sharing more of the report’s insights leading up to its Spring 2021 release. 
Stay tuned for:
Cohort 2 of the Research Assistants Recruitment
The Research Nest is looking forward to welcoming our next cohort of Research Assistants and Research Analysts! These recent graduates will be working in the Nest to analyze data, produce original research, and receive training and mentorship from top Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals. We can’t wait to introduce them to you – stay tuned!
Have questions or want to know more about the Research Knowledge Nest? Email us at research@indspire.ca or visit us at indspire.ca/research.
Building Brighter Futures Student Spotlight
Hailea Purcell and Aldrin Hjelmeland
Hailea Purcell and Aldrin Hjelmeland are two of eight Indigenous learners who received full medical school entrance scholarships as part of a new initiative from the University of Alberta.

The U of A provided 36 scholarships for a total of $2.9 million with the support of Indspire, CIBC and other funding. Both Purcell and Hjelmeland received good guidance from the U of A’s Indigenous Health Initiatives Program (IHIP). Purcell, who finished a nursing program prior to entering med school, sees herself becoming a family physician or pediatrician – and wants to work closely with Indigenous youth. Hjelmeland wants to find ways to increase Indigenous representation and knowledge in medical schools.

Read more about their story here.
In Memoriam
It was with tremendous sadness that we heard the news of the loss of two more members of the Indspire family. You can learn more about their lives and work here.
Theresa Stevenson
Theresa Stevenson, the co-founder of a long-running hot lunch program for school-aged kids called Chili for Children, died on January 25 at the age of 93. Stevenson and her late husband Bob helped launch a thrice-weekly program out of the Albert-Scott Community Centre in Regina’s North Central neighborhood in the 1980s – and it’s still running, serving approximately 800 hot lunches every day to school-aged kids in the city.

She was often recognized for her community work, receiving numerous accolades which included: being named the 1998 Citizen of the Year by the FSIN (then called the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations); an Indspire Award (Public Service, 1999); and being named a Member of the Order of Canada. Theresa will be missed by the many people who loved her dearly and by the thousands of lives she touched with her charity work and selflessness.
Dr. Thomas Dignan
Dr. Thomas Dignan passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 17th. He was passionate about education, equal access to health care and anti-racist practice in his decades as an anesthesiologist and primary care physician. 

Dr. Dignan entered the Faculty of Medicine at McMaster University and, in 1981, became its first-ever graduate of First Nations ancestry. He was a founding member of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada and the First President of the Native Nurses Association of Canada. Among the many accolades he received were the Order of Canada (2018), the Order of Ontario (2006), the Queen's Golden (2002) and Diamond (2012) Jubilee Medals, and an Indspire Award (Health, 2005).

His work as a physician, mentor and advocate for eradicating disparities in health care for Indigenous Peoples stands as an enduring legacy which will continue to have a lasting impact. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Thomas’s family and friends.
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