Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Making it easier to self-identify

Indigenous students at Queen’s can now self-identify through their SOLUS student account at any time during their studies.

[ATEP graduates]
Graduates of the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) celebrate outside of Grant Hall following following the fall convocation ceremony on Nov. 17, 2016. (University Communications) 

The short five-question mechanism was developed through a partnership of the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and the Office of the University Registrar with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.  It aims to provide the university with a more accurate picture of Aboriginal enrolment at Queen’s, and will inform and enhance programs, services and supports for these students. Until now, the only time an undergraduate student could self-identify was during the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre process.

“We estimate that only about half of the Aboriginal student population at Queen’s has self-identified,” says Four Directions Director Janice Hill. “This new function in SOLUS will give all students the opportunity to give us whatever information they feel comfortable providing. It also offers us the chance to connect with them, with their consent, and tell them about the specialized programs, services, and resources we have to promote their academic and personal success, and to encourage them to connect with the growing Aboriginal community on campus.”

The development of the new mechanism was led by Lauren Winkler, ArtSci'17, JD’20, outgoing president of the Queen’s Native Students’ Association and past AMS Deputy Commissioner of Indigenous Initiatives, who consulted with students, staff, faculty and other institutions over several months. She also helped to create a new website about self-identification that features the voices and photos of Aboriginal students who discuss the benefits of self-identification.

"I have spoken with students who I know to have Indigenous ancestry but don't feel comfortable self-identifying because they aren't connected with their culture,” says Ms. Winkler. “One student told me that to feel like they could self-identify, they would want Indigenous students to tell them it was okay and that they would be accepted. This is why we wanted to have videos featuring current Indigenous Queen's students, talking about their experiences and encouraging others to become part of the community."

The mechanism aligns with recommendations of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force that call for enhanced outreach to Aboriginal students to support retention and graduation.

Learn more about the mechanism and self-identification at Queen’s.