Four British Columbian post-secondary institutions, including CNC and UNBC in Prince George, are partnering with Mastercard Foundation to find solutions to some of the issues posed by COVID-19.

A total of $380,000 in support from the Mastercard Foundation Recovery and Resilience Program will be evenly divided between the four institutions.

“This pandemic has created additional barriers to educational success and summer employment for Indigenous students. We’re thankful for the support from the Mastercard Foundation and are honoured to work with other northern B.C. post-secondary institutions on this important project,” said CNC President and CEO Dr. Dennis Johnson.

The hope is the new program will enable Indigenous communities and young people to respond to the short-term impacts of the pandemic.

Indigenous students will receive academic mentoring and mental health counselling to help them navigate the barriers and challenges that come with isolation.

The program will also explore the possibility of deploying new last-mile connectivity technology in remote communities which will offer students greater access to remote learning, which will improve connectivity for the entire community.

“This support from the Mastercard Foundation will be transformative in assisting our current Indigenous students as they realize their academic goals during this period of uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, by collaborating with communities, technology innovators, and our northern post-secondary partners, this project will enhance the capacity for future distance education through improved internet access,” said UNBC Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Geoff Payne.