Indigenious Spirit Journey (ISJ) Program

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                                                                            (CCR Approved)

What is it?

The Indigenious Spirit Journey (ISJ) is an opportunity for UTM students to act as Mentors to local high school students and participate in the design and development of a pilot program aimed at providing positive life and career pathways for youth in the Region of Peel.  The UTM Student Mentors will identify significant outcomes and best practices in relation to the teaching components that include therapeutic horticulture, environmental education, leadership development and Indigenous cultural teachings to re-awaken intrinsic connections to the land.  The UTM Student Mentors will assist in preparing strategies for becoming strong community leaders in addition to developing an understanding of the importance of fostering inter-cultural inclusion, respect for diversity, connection to one’s own culture, and a deeper understanding of their role in the community.

Program Details:

  • ISJ participants will meet once a week for 12 weeks and will take part in an experiential journey involving land-based activities founded on Indigenous philosophical cultural teachings.
  • UTM students from any undergraduate program can be drawn upon as volunteers to assist as Mentors. 
  • The ISJ will take place at The Riverwood Conservancy:  4300 Riverwood Park Lane, Mississauga (major intersection Burnhamthorpe Rd West at The Credit Woodlands).
  • A major portion of the program will take place outdoors weather permitting in a woodland setting.  
  • A commitment of 1 day per week (Thursdays) for a total of 12 weeks. (9am-3pm).
  • Main program component commencing from Thursday March 23rd through Thursday June 8th.

Program Requirements:

  • UTM Student Mentors will be required to attend two group teaching circles (each circle takes approximately 2 hours to complete) which will be led by an Indigenous Elder, as well as individualized one-on-one sessions with the Elder (approximately 1.5 hours per student) to assess capability, discuss roles and responsibilities, and to provide a basis of learning about Aboriginal culture and practice.  Completing these tasks and mentoring activities will lead to recognition on a student’s CCR.
  • UTM Student Mentor Training (mandatory) is scheduled for Thursday March 9th from 10:00am-12:00pm at The Riverwood Conservancy with Cat Criger
  • UTM Student Mentors are required to attend a Nature Sit (mandatory) on Thursday March 16 from 10:00am-12:00pm at The Riverwood Conserancy with Jane New
  • UTM Student Mentors must arrive on time
  • UTM Student Mentors are to assist in pre-setup/prep for each day of program
  • Must be willing to learn about Indigenous aboriginal culture in situ
  • Willingness to work with youth from a position of compassion and empathy
  • Willingness to work under the guidance of a Traditional Indigenous Elder and Knowledge Keepers
  • To assist in physical work involving: 
    • Helping to guide and monitor youth in outdoor/indoor settings.
    • Assisting with light weight equipment used in science component of lessons, GPS's, cameras, water testing, temp sensors etc.
    • To assist the youth with collecting simple photos for journals, e.g.: selfies, scenes, group, plants etc.
  • Assist in simple evaluation of the program for youth as well as themselves
  • To write and submit simple reflection pieces to the facilitators (Elders/Knowledge Keepers and Jane New).  Personal observations, effectiveness of presentations, youth impact changes though out program.
  • Attention and monitoring of youth in all situations.
  • To be open to an experiential learning opportunity through an Indigenous 'lens'
  • To bring a desire to further develop an inter-culture awareness and to gain first-hand experience in cultural diversity as 'integrative' as opposed to divisive.

Application Details:

  • The UTM students will need to submit an application package in hard-copy to the UTM Experiential Education Office (EEO) or by email to melissa.berger@utoronto.ca. The application should consist of:
    • Cover Letter
    • Statement of Interest
    • Resume/CV
    • Student Transcript (unofficial)
  • Individual meetings will be arranged to determine fit, and UTM students selected will be asked to complete a Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC) as they will be working with youth groups under the age of 18.  
  • The deadline to apply is: Friday March 3, 2017

Testimonials:

Avishan Persadmehr – 4th Year Undergraduate Student | Psychology Specialist, French Major

"While enduring my educational experience at the ISJ (nee:YIAP) program I gained several practical skills that complimented my degree. This program also helped me gain insight on my future career paths! "

Noha Akram – 1st Year Undergraduate Student | Forensic Science

"This program truly stands for what it is named. Indeginous for the amazing knowkedge of our country's origins, Spirit because of the new found peace and tranquility we discover within our selves, and Journey because it is a travel and quest in our own minds for discovering our strong character traits. It was nice to discover a new talent within my self that was not just academics, but a passion for guiding others to their dreams as a mentor!"

Qiwei Shao – 1st Year Undergraduate Student | Social Science

"As a mentor, I get the chance to chat and assist students with different activities like geocaching, water measurement, and planting. All of the participants in the program have equal height, and each one has something to contribute. The value of equality is readily embodied in the concluding circle of each session, where everyone shares his or her experience of that session. All in all, if you are interested in indigenous culture and love to help others, this program is a perfect pick for you."