Leaving home to attend university, college, or trades school can be an exciting yet challenging experience for new Inuit, Métis, and First Nations students in Canada. It’s natural to feel a sense of longing and a desire to stay connected to your cultural roots and home community while away. Check out these easy tips to help you stay connected to home and maintain a sense of cultural identity as you embark on your learning journey.

Stay in touch with family and community

Technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected with loved ones. Make use of video calls, phone calls, and messaging apps to regularly communicate with your family, friends, and community members back home. Share updates about your school life, seek advice or guidance when needed, and participate in virtual gatherings or events to stay connected.

Create a support network on campus

Seek out and connect with other Indigenous students on campus. Join Indigenous student organizations or cultural clubs to meet like-minded individuals who share your cultural background. These groups often organize events, workshops, and cultural activities that can help foster a sense of community and connection with your home culture.

Incorporate cultural practices into your routine

Embrace and maintain cultural practices as part of your daily routine. This can include practices such as smudging, prayer, or engaging in traditional arts and crafts. Setting aside time to engage in these activities can help ground you, maintain a sense of cultural identity, and provide comfort during times of homesickness.

Decorate your living space with cultural symbols

Personalize your living space with items that represent your Indigenous culture and heritage. Display artwork, symbols, or traditional crafts that remind you of home. Surrounding yourself with these visual reminders can create a sense of familiarity and connection, even when you’re far away.

Stay connected to Indigenous events and organizations

Research and stay informed about Indigenous events, workshops, and gatherings in your campus community. Attend cultural celebrations, guest lectures, or workshops related to Indigenous topics. Engaging in these activities can help you feel connected to your cultural heritage and provide opportunities to meet other individuals who share similar interests.

Share your culture with others

Embrace the opportunity to educate others about your Indigenous culture and traditions. Consider organizing cultural presentations, sharing traditional food, or participating in multicultural events on campus. Sharing your culture not only helps educate others but also reinforces your connection to your roots and builds bridges of understanding.

Visit home during breaks

Whenever possible, plan visits back home during breaks. Spending time with your family, participating in community events, and immersing yourself in your home community can provide a sense of grounding, rejuvenation, and a renewed connection to your cultural identity.

Connect with local Indigenous communities

Explore and connect with Indigenous communities near your school. Attend powwows, cultural festivals, or community gatherings hosted by local First Nations, Métis, or Inuit organizations. Engaging with these communities can provide opportunities to learn, share experiences, and create connections with individuals who understand and appreciate your cultural background.

Stay updated on community news

Stay connected with news and updates from your home community through online platforms, social media groups, or community newsletters. Being informed about events, initiatives, and achievements can help you stay connected and engaged, even from a distance.

Seek out Indigenous support services

Many post-secondary institutions offer Indigenous support services specifically tailored to the needs of Inuit, Métis, and First Nations students. These services provide resources, counselling, cultural programming, and academic support. Take advantage of these services to connect with Indigenous staff, Elders, or mentors who can provide guidance and support during your learning journey.

Remember, staying connected to your home and cultural roots is a personal and ongoing process. Embrace opportunities to learn, share, and grow both on campus and within your home community. Cultivate a balance between embracing your new experiences and maintaining a strong connection to your Indigenous identity. By implementing these easy tips, you can stay connected to home, foster a sense of belonging, and navigate the challenges of university life with cultural pride and resilience.

As you embark on your educational journey, remember that your cultural heritage is a source of strength and wisdom. Cherish and celebrate your roots, share your experiences, and contribute to the diverse tapestry of campus life. By staying connected to your home, you can create a sense of belonging, nurture your cultural identity, and pave the way for a successful and enriching academic experience.

Chelsea Reid Headshot

Paige Hill

Mentorship Advocate, Indspire

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