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Breaking down colonial barriers at Smith


Sitting in a lecture hall. Enjoying a meal in a dining hall. Sleeping in a dorm. These are the experiences that make up undergraduate university life. Now, imagine getting the chance to go beyond the university brochure and immerse yourself in campus life before making that big leap.

This summer, students from the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne got to do just that, as part of a pilot initiative. It was organized by Smith Commerce in conjunction with the Centre for Social Impact at Smith, the Queen’s Enrichment Studies Unit and Akwesasne Career & Employment Support Services.

Over four days, the high-school students stayed in residence, ate lunch at Leonard Hall, participated in lectures at Smith and took part in a simulated business pitch competition. They also toured the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre on campus. Several Queen’s faculties, meanwhile, hosted a fair that gave the students information on the range of programs and support services available at Queen’s.

“Inspiring and increasing participation in post-secondary education is one way we can break down colonial barriers to successful careers in business for Indigenous people,” notes Ann Deer, Indigenous recruitment and initiatives co-ordinator for Commerce. “Early outreach allows Indigenous youth to see themselves at Queen’s and how higher education can help them realize their dreams.”