for Indigenous Learners
Since the beginning of the pandemic Indigenous Institutes in Ontario have adapted, transitioned and pivoted operations and programming to meet the needs post-secondary learners, and are now offering both virtual learning and safe, hybrid in-person and online programming, and microcredentials are on the horizon. Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, Indigenous Institutes continue to support Ontario’s economy by training essential workers in frontline roles such as nurses, PSWs and health administrators.
To help learners, we have gathered links to resources, useful work-from-home diagrams, and helpful tips to help with learning from home during COVID-19, including:
- Setting up your workspace
- Studying at home as a parent
- Mental wellness
- Getting out on the land
- Culture as healing and learning
The IIC and its members Institutes continue to closely monitor the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to follow the guidance provided by Public Health Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Health and local First Nations Health Officials. Our member Institutes are taking all necessary precautions including screening, closures and implementing alternative methods of program delivery to keep students, faculty and staff safe. Please refer to each Institute’s website for the latest updates.
Check back here regularly as this page continues to grow!
IIC's at Home Learning and Working Tips
Having a place to work and study is as important for your mental wellness as it is for your studies. A dedicated workspace can help you focus and keep you on track with the work you are doing. Here are three tips for setting up a workspace that will help your body and mind.
- Find a dedicated workspace: Now that learning is all online you will want to find a dedicated space to set up your computer, but you will also want to make sure you have the other materials you will need nearby, this may be a notebook and some paper, pens or pencils, and maybe some sticky notes to keep track of important information. Keep all these materials near your workspace so that when you came to study you have everything you need. If the workspace is a kitchen table or common area, make sure to set it up and take it down the same way every day. Routine helps!
- Set your workspace up properly: Working at a desk or table is not the most comfortable or natural thing, and it can strain on the body, but there are some ways to set it up that will help prevent strain and injury:
- Set your chair and desk up so that your elbows are level with or angled down to your keyboard, and the screen of your computer is at eye-level – you can prop it up on books, sturdy boxes or pieces of wood.
- Make sure your feet rest on the floor when you sit in your chair, if they don’t find a box to rest your feet on.
- When you are sitting for a long time, get up and walk around once every thirty minutes to give yourself and your body a break, try some light stretching.
- Find a reading and writing spot: Sometimes your classes will require you to focus on reading or writing. If you can, try and find a space near your work area where you can step back from the computer to focus without computer distractions.
IIC's Specialized Tips
Choosing to go to school is a big decision, it’s a commitment that takes time and focus and if you are a parent at home with children (who are also studying at home!) finding the right balance to study, learn and take care of the family isn’t easy. For all the parents, older siblings, and all of those living at home with little ones, here are some tips to help with you learn.
While you and your kids may not be going to school, setting up a regular schedule will help make sure you are spending the time you need on your learning. If your kids are in a virtual classroom all day, try and get your studying in at the same time. If you’re little ones are still napping, try use this time to work on your studies. Making a note of when you want to study, on a calendar, in your phone or on a pieces of paper can be a good way to remind yourself, and to let the family know your plans.
Create a conducive workspace
Having a dedicated workspace as a parent is important because it helps you step away from the responsibilities of parenting. If your kids are old enough, explain to them that when you are in this space you are doing schoolwork too and that you need your space when you are here. If your kids are little and still need to be supervised, consider setting up some of their toys around your desk so that they can play safely while you work nearby.
Your family is part of your learning journey, so why not look for ways to involve your kids in your learning – practice words with them if you are studying languages, or do some activities with them if you are learning about early childhood education.
Ask for help
No matter what you are studying there are going to be times that you need space away from your kids – like when you are participating in a class, watching a video or studying for a test – and you will need to ask for help from someone who can watch your kids. Depending on who you ask, this can take some planning so ask in advance, schedule it in and follow up to make sure the plan is solid. You can also ask your Indigenous Institute for help or suggestions if you need them.
Make a daily list of your priorities
Being a parent and learner isn’t easy, but your education and future career are important for your whole family. There are lots of things you have to get done in a day so start small, make a list each day of your priorities, for your family and for your studies, maybe only two or three for each. If you feel you are getting off task, look at it throughout the day. Try and cross each priority off as you go and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get everything done – this happens to everyone. You can put tasks back on your list tomorrow.
Indigenous Institutes know that family comes first
As a parent your kids are the most important part of your life. Our Indigenous Institutes understand that. Being a parent can be unpredictable, no matter their age kids will surprise you. When school or life get stressful it’s important to remember to treat our kids and family with care and kindness. If you need to make time for your family and cannot meet some of your learning tasks, reach out and let your instructor know.
Families are at the heart of our communities and we know that to succeed your family needs to be supported. Put your kids first and we will help you get the rest of the way.
Mental Health Supports
Going to school for a new skill or career can be a stressful experience, and the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic can make learning challenging. All learners may need help at some point, and we encourage anyone who is struggling with their studies, family life or health, to reach out their Institutes for resources. Our Institutes want you to succeed and each they have been developing tools to support your mental wellness on this learning journey.
There are also many resources out there, some especially for post-secondary students, which all learners can access.
Native Youth Crisis Line is for Indigenous youth and is available 24/7.
Talk4Healing offers culturally grounded, fully confidential help for Indigenous women. Available in 14 languages across Ontario.
Good2Talk is Ontario’s 24/7 helpline for postsecondary students.
Text: GOOD2TALKON to 68-68-68
ConnexOntario provides free and confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness and/or gambling. Support is available 24/7, is confidential, and free.
BounceBack is a free skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness.
Togetherall is an online anonymous peer-to-peer support community.
Getting Out on the Land
Staying connected to the land is important in times when we cannot connect as much with our communities. Getting outside helps with our mental wellness by giving us space and time to clear our minds, and there are lots of fun and educational activities you can do on your own, or with your family.
IIC's Cultural & Holistic Wellness Tips
During these times of isolation staying connected to our culture can help us learn and provide ways to heal and grow. During COVID-19, our Indigenous Institutes are working harder than ever to provide learners with the cultural supports they need by connecting them with elders and organizing online activities. Reach out to your Institute and ask them what they have planned or let them know that you would like to connect, and they will be sure to help you on your path.
The IIC and its members extend healing prayers to everyone who has been closely affected by the pandemic. We hope you and your close ones remain safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing you again when it is safe. Until then, please follow all recommended health guidelines and please wear a mask.