The Staying Connected to Education project will see over 800 indigenous in the central Vancouver Island area receiving computers. Pictured here are Ted Cadwallader, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ principal of aboriginal education, left, Bill Yoachim, Kw’umut Lelum CEO, Charlene McKay, NLPS board chairperson, Crystal Dennison, Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation executive director, Ed Poli, NLSF president and Michael Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nation chief. (Submitted photo)

800 laptops and tablets provided to indigenous students on central Vancouver Island

Nanaimo school district, Kw’umut Lelum part of the Staying Connected to Education project

More than 800 indigenous students in the central Vancouver Island region have received educational support in the form of laptop and tablet computers thanks to a collaboration between three organizations.

According to a press release, Kw’umut Lelum, Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation and Mastercard Foundation are teaming in the Staying Connected to Education initiative, which sees school districts, aboriginal friendship centres and First Nations governments identifying families in need and taking care of distribution of the technology in order for students to continue with learning and to keep them connected with services and support.

The coronavirus has had a deep effect on First Nations, where one in four are living in poverty, said the press release. With services like education being offered in online environments, it can be difficult to ensure the most vulnerable have access to to items that aid online education. The computers, in addition to free wi-fi access, will aid students and families “who are already struggling to cope with the transition to virtual learning,” the press release said.

READ ALSO: SD68 COVID-19 response includes loaning 2,000 Chromebooks

Members of Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district were pleased with the announcement.

Bill Yoachim, Kw’umut Lelum CEO, said in the press release that his organization’s nine Coast Salish member nations realize that education is the pathway to betterment of our children’s lives.

“During this pandemic we have to ensure all indigenous learners do not fall behind for economic reasons,” he said.

Scott Saywell, district superintendent, said in the release that Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is pleased to be able to play a role in this project.

“By focusing our collective efforts on improving the life chances of our students we can and will make a difference for them,” he said.

Snuneymuxw Chief Michael Wyse expressed thanks to the parties that worked together on the initiative.

“It will be an immense benefit for our young people to have access to this technology that will allow them to continue their learning,” he said in the release.

Students get to keep their computers and the wi-fi will be available through the end of December.

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