Northern post-secondary education task force looking for feedback

·2 min read
A northern post-secondary education task force was announced last year by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
A northern post-secondary education task force was announced last year by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

The Task Force on Northern Post-Secondary Education is now looking for northerners to share their experiences and stories.

Tosh Southwick has been working in education for years and she believes it has the power to transform lives and communities.
Tosh Southwick has been working in education for years and she believes it has the power to transform lives and communities.(Task Force on Northern Post-Secondary Education)

The task force was established last year by the federal government, with an aim to close the gaps in education and skills training between the North and the rest of Canada. It's made up of 13 representatives from across northern Canada, nominated in part by northern governments and Indigenous organizations.

Among the three Yukon members is Tosh Southwick.

"The goal is to try and improve post-secondary for all of the North," Southwick said. "I think it was reflected in the approach of trying to reach out to as many people as we can to hear their stories and hear their suggestions."

Southwick put her name forward last year.

She has been working in education for years and she believes it has the power to transform lives and communities. Her experience includes working as a consultant and former associate vice-president of Indigenous engagement and reconciliation at Yukon University.

"I think education is key and particularly transformational for Indigenous communities," Southwick said.

To her, the biggest barrier for northern students is distance and needing to leave home to continue their education.

She said the task force is particularly interested in hearing the voices of high school students who are considering post-secondary education. But the feedback is "wide open," she added.

"We want to hear from researchers, we want to hear from faculty. We want to hear from any support people we want to hear from funders," she said.

There's several ways people can get involved with the task force and have their experiences heard.

That includes filling out a survey on its website, a portal where people can enter documentation, like for those who want to write in or share a short film, she said. Letters will also be going out to Yukon First Nations asking how they want to be involved, and there will also be a large virtual meeting at some point.

The task force will go through all the feedback, produce a what-we-heard report in the fall and then toward the end of the year, it will make recommendations.

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