Culturally relevant mentoring benefits Aboriginal students, study finds

Posted on February 8th, 2017

Indigenous students coached by aboriginal mentors appear to do better at school and be mentally healthier than their non-mentored peers, a new Canadian study indicates.

While the findings are not definitive, the two-year study does suggest culturally relevant mentoring offers clear benefits for First Nations youth.

The study, published in the “Journal of Primary Prevention” and led by Claire Crooks with the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario, is billed as the first of its kind in Canada.

“This program was able to help these indigenous students develop a positive sense of identity tied to their culture,” Crooks said in a statement.

“We can now show with real evidence that when they feel better about themselves, know who they are and understand where they came from, there are hugely positive impacts in almost all other areas of their lives.”

From 2011 to 2013, the study team followed 105 aboriginals aged 11 to 14. The Grade 7 and Grade 8 students at the Thames Valley District School Board met weekly with an indigenous adult mentor. The sessions focused on coping with stress, and on First Nations spiritual, physical, mental and emotional teachings.

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