Lighting your inner fire embodies the spirit of the Ishkodehwin Peer Mentorship Program. Within the collaborative embrace of the First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL) at Trent, the program reaches out to first-year Indigenous learners. As its first FPHL peer mentor at Trent University Durham GTA, Bobbie-Ann McCulloch provides welcoming guidance.
“I am so honoured to be in this role,” states the second-year Sociology and Legal Studies student. “It has taught me so much about myself and my community. I’m grateful to continue to build resources and the community at Trent Durham for Indigenous students while building bridges of allyship with non-Indigenous students.”
Building a supportive network
The Ishkodehwin Indigenous Peer Mentorship Program connects upper-year Indigenous student mentors with first-year students. Under the direction of FPHL, the program guides students through transitions of the first year of university, offering support in areas such as, academics, life skills and overall well-being. Whether students are missing family from home, tackling a new course, navigating the transit system, or applying to the Indspire Awards, mentors can help.
“Students can access resources, create a network of friends, and find that sense of belonging in community within the larger Trent community,” said Stéphanie Nelson, Indigenous student success coordinator at FPHL. “To have somebody walk with you and give a guided tour to resources week-by-week for your entire first year, really benefits the students.”
Ms. McCulloch feels it is important for students to reach out to mentors for support and to get involved on campus. “Having these resources and spaces where you can see yourself being represented and heard is so important for students’ individual well-being and feelings like they belong to the community at Trent.”
Creating connections & community
Due to the pandemic, mentoring activities have moved online for now. Regardless, the human connection remains strong through virtual gatherings and the Ishkodehwin Live group on Facebook.
“I really enjoyed building this virtual community and creating space for Indigenous students,” said Ms. McCulloch. “It has been an amazing experience to collaborate and learn from Ishkodehwin Peer Mentors and Stéphanie.”
Ms. McCulloch initially volunteered as a firekeeper at the Tipi on Trent Durham’s campus. Now, also an FPHL ambassador, her role has evolved to keep building community. “It is so important to continue to create space at Trent Durham and develop one inclusive Trent community.”
Learn more about the peer mentorship program.