OTTAWA, April 9, 2019 – The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is proud to announce a new pilot program aimed at increasing representation of Indigenous students within the organization, and strengthening its advocacy efforts for those students.
CASA is committed to holding government accountable for implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action related to post-secondary education, and has long advocated for increased financial supports for Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and funding for on-campus reconciliation programming. However, more needs to be done to remove the many barriers that Indigenous students face when pursuing a post-secondary degree. For instance, some Indigenous students encounter racism, difficulties finding childcare, an inability to take time off school for cultural ceremonies , difficulties adjusting to Western teaching styles, and inadequate spaces to engage in Indigenous practices. CASA is looking to expand and strengthen its longstanding advocacy efforts for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students by facilitating their direct participation in the organization.
“CASA is an organization that looks to represent the interests of all students, including those who are Indigenous and often face additional challenges when it comes to post-secondary,” says Yana Titarenko, Chair of CASA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. “We strongly stand by the rule of ‘not about us without us,’ meaning that to advocate effectively, we need to ensure that Indigenous voices are included in our organization and its advocacy. This pilot program is intended to see to that.”
The pilot program will launch this coming summer and continue on throughout the 2019-2020 year. Indigenous students from member associations will be invited to convene and develop formal protocols on how they will participate in the organization and ensure it is adequately representing diverse Indigenous students. Dedicated funding for this program was approved by the membership at CASA’s Annual General Meeting in March 2019.
“I’m so excited to see our members invest in this important program that will better equip us to advocate for all students,” says Manjeet Birk, CASA’s Executive Director. “This is the first step in a much longer process of inclusion.”
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 23 student associations representing 280,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. With its partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU), CASA represents a total of 360,000 students across Canada and presents a national student voice to the federal government. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Lindsay Boyd, Communications and Public Relations Officer