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‘Creating dreams’: U of R president, staff tour northern communities to gather feedback

Laronge Now with Vianne Timmons 18 September 2019

 

Be it childcare accommodation or teacher training and retention in the North, needs for northern Saskatchewan students are intricate and unique.

This is why, for the last decade, senior staff and the University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons have toured northern communities to gather vital intel and knowledge they need to ensure students achieve their best.

“For a student to leave the North and go to university, they leave their families, they leave their support network,” she said, saying small things, like heading back home for Thanksgiving, can be time consuming and expensive. “It is a huge cultural shock, financial shock and generally really tough.”

While touring northern communities, Timmons and staff ensure to carve out time in a packed schedule for meetings with municipal councils, local chiefs and council, directors of education and high school students and staff.

Through past tours, Timmons said they have learned valuable information, such as struggles faced by northern school divisions to retain educators. Since then, the university has partnered with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Gabrielle Dumont Institute on a teacher education program.

Outside of understanding education needs, Timmons said the tours can inspire youth to have new goals in life.

“Not all of them dream [of going to post-secondary] for themselves. Part of what we do is help create dreams for young people in these northern communities and then our job is to ensure we can make [the dream] happen,” she added.

Timmons and staff are in Birch Narrows Dene Nation and Clearwater River Dene Nation on Sept. 18, have meetings with the Flying Dust First Nation and Meadow Lake Tribal Council the following day and will visit La Ronge and Wollaston Lake on Friday.

Vianne Timmons is the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina.