September 2, 2020
Amazon Canada has donated $10,000 to Simon Fraser University’s Indigenous University Preparation Program (IUPP) to facilitate remote learning for students through the purchase of equipment, such as laptop computers and graphics tablets.
The shift to online learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for some students who are unable to equip themselves with the necessary technology.
The IUPP program welcomes First Nations, Métis and Inuit students as they explore the university with Elders, mentors, tutors and instructors, and prepares them for undergraduate studies by offering two foundational courses and five first-year academic credit courses that integrate humanities and social sciences with Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.
Students are admitted to SFU with credits towards their undergraduate degrees after successfully completing the program. Amazon’s contribution will help ensure that students have access to this life-changing program during these unprecedented times.
“Technology opens a world of possibilities, and access to essential tools like computers should not stand in the way of a student’s ability to benefit from a program like IUPP,” said Jesse Dougherty, vice president, Amazon Canada.
Candara Bruyere, who dropped out of school in Grade 8, graduated from the IUPP last year as a mature student and has since completed two semesters towards her Bachelor of Arts degree. She is now eyeing a career in social work or possibly further studies in Indigenous law.
“When I first looked at the course schedule and syllabus I was really overwhelmed,” Bruyere recalls. “I honestly didn’t believe I was going to be able to complete the program. But I made friends through the IUPP. We were all in similar positions so it was a nice supportive network to help me succeed in the program. I never felt like I was alone.”
Enrolment has increased exponentially since the program started in January 2018. This year, the program received a number of applications, not only from Metro Vancouver, but also from across B.C. and other western provinces.
The program’s Associate Director, Mar-y-Paz Rivera, says as SFU moved its operations and classes online in wake of the pandemic, there was an urgent need for laptops for some IUPP students who were unable to afford them to complete their work remotely.
“It’s essential that Indigenous learners have support and access to the technology that they need to succeed and thrive in their post-secondary journey,” she says.
“Amazon’s donation will help our students, and facilitate our innovative virtual teaching and learning methods by providing affordable technology. These methods will also open new pathways for Indigenous students who might want to start their post-secondary journey in their home communities and eventually continue their studies at any of SFU’s campuses.”
IUPP—in its current format—was introduced at SFU in 2018, and is guided by the Calls to Action shared laid out in the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reports.