Kw’umut Lelum, in collaboration with Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation (NLSF) and the Mastercard Foundation will support over 800 Indigenous learners and their families across mid-Vancouver Island. The “Staying Connected to Education” initiative provides access to support their online education, and also keeps them better connected to the services and social supports they need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on Indigenous communities, where 1 in 4 people are living in poverty. With many services, including education, being provided in a virtual environment, it is challenging to ensure some of the most vulnerable have access to technological resources and supports to continue education and connection. While graduation rates are rising, only about 44% of First Nations people 18-24 living on reserve have completed high school. Tablets and laptops, as well as additional supports including free Wi-Fi access, will provide a lifeline to students and their families who are already struggling to cope with a transition to virtual learning.
The collaborative effort sees local School Districts (Parksville/Qualicum, Nanaimo Ladysmith and Cowichan), Aboriginal Friendship Centres and First Nations governments identifying families in need in each of their catchment areas and overseeing the distribution of the devices to ensure they get into the hands of students who need them most.
“Kw’umut Lelum and its nine Coast Salish member nations realize that education is the pathway to betterment of our children’s lives, and during this pandemic we have to ensure all Indigenous learners do not fall behind for economic reasons. We have a duty as Indigenous people to ensure all Indigenous youth in our territories are treated as ours. This teaching comes from the land and is practiced in our Longhouse where you feed all the guests before yourselves, ensuring the guests are nourished and feel welcomed. KL feels the same to all the guests in our territories, we will ensure all Indigenous learners will be fed with the same educational opportunities as our own. We give thanks to the MasterCard Foundation for this opportunity to support our children and are honoured to partner with the Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation. ” - Sqwulutsutun / William Yoachim, CEO of Kw’umut Lelum.
“The Kw’umut Lelum program to connect indigenous students is an excellent and much needed initiative that fits perfectly with the Foundation’s vision of helping every student reach their full potential. We are pleased to have been able to partner with Kw’umut Lelum and are grateful for the support of the MasterCard Foundation.” – Ed Poli, NLSF Board Chair