In an effort to stay better connected with aboriginal students and staff, the University of Manitoba has launched a new web portal called Indigenous Connect.
Deborah Young, the executive lead for indigenous achievement at U of M, said that as soon as she arrived at the university, she wanted to develop a single window portal that would pull together information on all of university’s academic offerings and research, as well as the aboriginal recruitment and student support resources offered at Migizii Agamik (Bald Eagle Lodge).
She said she felt that U of M was doing amazing and innovative work on First Nations, Metis and Inuit issues, including community outreach, but it was difficult to learn about it because the information was contained in various sections of the U of M website.
“The beauty of Indigenous Connect is that it pulls together the majority of these pieces into a single and friendly user portal,” Young said. “Prior to Indigenous Connect, information was scattered throughout our massive U of M website which made it very difficult to access.”
Explaining how Indigenous Connect works, Young said that it pulls together various pieces (web pages and web links etc.) into a single web page.
“Indigenous Connect will hopefully eliminate the endless searching as all the information is contained on one web page.”
Young clarified that individual faculties or department, such as Native Studies, Social Work and Migizii Agamik will continue to have their own websites.
One of the unique features of Indigenous Connect is the welcome message in six aboriginal languages, she pointed out.
The languages of the welcome are Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktituit, Michif and Ojibway as well as English.
Young said she hopes Indigenous Connect will benefit U of M students, staff and community members by disseminating information to future and present students, as well as sharing U of M’s research and community services with other First Nation partners, she said.
Young noted that the Indigenous Connect is one of the components of a much larger Indigenous Achievement strategy.
She said that the Pathways to Indigenous Achievement, which is a pillar in the President’s Strategic Framework, has four directions: supporting students, building partnerships and supporting communities, promoting indigenous knowledge, and research and celebrating First Nations, Metis and Inuit successes.
“Clearly, Indigenous Connect touches upon each of these four direction areas,” Young said.
Kerry Spence, UMSU community representative for the U of M Aboriginal Students Association at the UMSU Council, said she enjoyed being able to listen to the site’s welcome message in her family’s language, Ojibway.
She said that students can definitely benefit from being able to access everything they need, such as services on campus and awards info, in one portal rather than having to search through information scattered in different places.
“Students, particularly those who are considering attending U of M will benefit from this new portal,” she commented.