Co-op and career support for Indigenous students

Nicole Mandryk
Nicole Mandryk (psychology and Indigenous studies) was hired to engage with local Aboriginal communities through summer programs offered at Mary’s Farm and Sanctuary, including nature-based counselling, equine-facilitated wellness workshops, drumming events and youth camps.
UVic's co-op program offers many exciting opportunities for Indigenous students to connect with employers and gain culturally relevant work experience. Learn more about co-op or find answers to common questions below. You can also learn about career support for Indigenous students.


Meet the Indigenous co-op coordinator

Jonathon Swanson

My name is Jon Swanson and I am Indigenous co-op coordinator for the Co-operative Education Program and Career Services. I am Cree, originally from Northern Ontario, and I acknowledge that I live and work in the beautiful traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples, as well as recognizing the ongoing relationship to the land that the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ people continue to have.

My academic background includes degrees in History, Political Science, and a Masters in International Relations, and I have had the opportunity to live and study in the traditional territory of the Ngāti Wairere and Ngāti Hauā of Tainui in New Zealand.

Prior to joining the University of Victoria, I have worked extensively with and for First Nations across Canada in the areas of Governance, Research, Rights and Title, Capacity Development, and University Relations. 

My lived experience as a First Nations student, and an international indigenous student, has given me an understanding of the difficulties we face while trying walk in the worlds of our own cultures and the culture of academia.  Entering the world of business, industry, government, or any other of our placement areas is an additional challenge and I am here to support you on your journey.

As the Indigenous co-op coordinator, I can help you:
  • help you find culturally relevant co-op opportunities—projects or services that impact or partner with Indigenous communities
  • connect you with Indigenous organizations and First Nations communities who hire students
  • find career resources

You can reach me at or 250-721-6378, or in the Business and Economics Building, room 421.

What support and programs are available?

We encourage you to take part in the programs and opportunities that support Indigenous students.

Indigenous International Work-Integration Learning (WIL) Exchange Program

If you're an Indigenous co-op student, you may be able to travel to Australia to take part in a unique Indigenous co-op exchange (as part of our unique Indigenous International Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Exchange Program). You'll complete a work term that connects you to Indigenous people and communities in Australia, while Indigenous students will travel to Victoria to take part in UVic's LE,NONET program and complete a community internship. Partner institutions include:

Hear from students who have taken part:

Career Fair and Mock Interview Clinic for Indigenous Students

Curious about career options? Want to practice your interview skills? Attend the Career Fair and Mock Interview Clinic for Indigenous Students to:

  • learn about career and co-op opportunities available to Indigenous students
  • network with company representatives and ask questions

This event is held in the fall and spring.

Why take part in the event?

LE,NONET Program

LE,NONET (pronounced "le-nong-it") is a SENĆOŦEN word that literally means "paddling a canoe in a storm and making it through to the other side". In a more figurative sense, LE,NONET can also be taken to mean "success after enduring many hardships."

The Community Internship (IS 321) is 120 hours of work experience carried out in an Indigenous community or organization of the student's choice. Students must complete the IS 310 Preparation Seminar pre-requisite with a B+ (77%) or higher in order to register for this.

LYNX Career Program

The LYNX Career Program through the University of Calgary provides an opportunity for Indigenous students and recent graduates from various universities in Western Canada to connect directly with potential employers.

Potential employers seeking to hire Indigenous students use the program to post available employment positions, view student profiles and share information about their organizations. 

Through the program website, you can upload résumés and learn about opportunities for internships, co-ops, summer and full-time employment.

New graduates - Indigenous Intern Leadership Program

The Indigenous Intern Leadership Program connects qualifying recent Indigenous Graduates from all BC post-secondary institutions with BC employers for two-year work opportunities. 

The internship provides workplace skills and training with the goal to strength and increase capacity within Indigenous communities. economic reconciliation, community development, cultural preservation, and respect.

This initiative has been made possible by the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and the Business Council of B.C. through their joint Champions Table, along with the support of Vancouver Island University and the Government of British Columbia.

Funding opportunities for Indigenous students and organizations

At UVic, hands-on experiential learning is an essential part of the student experience. To support students as they pursue community-based learning opportunities, the university provides a range of funding opportunities for students and employers both in Canada and abroad. The following funding opportunities are available to Indigenous students and Indigenous organizations through UVic's Strategic Framework Experiential Learning Fund (SF-ELF):

Indigenous Co-operative Education Wage Subsidy Program

Who can apply

Through this funding, Indigenous community organizations may be eligible for a wage subsidy to cover a portion of cost of hiring a co-op student for a co-op work term (up to a maxiumum $5,000).

Half of the funding will be provided to the employer at the end of the first month of the work term. The rest of the funding will be provided after the employer has completed the final competency assessment.

How to apply

  • Indigenous community organizations must work with their UVic co-op coordinator to review the guidelines and discuss eligibility (outlined on the application form)
  • If eligible, Indigenous community organizations must complete complete the application form together with their co-op coordinator
  • The co-op coordinator will submit the application for consideration

When to apply

The application deadline varies per term.

  • January - April work terms: 4:30 p.m. on November 1
  • May - August work terms: 4:30 p.m. on March 1
  • September - December work terms: 4:30 p.m. on July 1

Co-operative Education Travel Awards for the Indigenous International Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Exchange Program

Who qualifies?

Students who are selected to participate in the Indigenous International Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Exchange Program may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in travel funding support.

How to apply

No separate funding application is required—we’ll contact you if you're selected for this award after securing an international work term through this exchange program.

Learn about UVic's Indigenous co-op exchange


Frequently asked questions

Can co-op work with band funding?

Each band has different funding policies, so please ask your band to see how funding can work with your co-op degree or contact our  coordinator for help.

Are there culturally relevant co-op positions?

Co-op offers many culturally relevant work opportunities that will help you gain experience and build your technical, professional and community-based skills. Our employers include large companies, government ministries, organizations that impact Indigenous communities, and community-based groups, such as community organizations and tribal councils. You can also apply to any other co-op jobs you're interested in.

You can also work with our  coordinator to develop a customized position in your own community or with a particular employer you're interested in.

I'm a part-time student. Can I join co-op?

We offer a part-time parallel program for part-time students, so you can gain relevant work experience without disrupting your school/life balance. Contact your co-op program for more information.

Will co-op work if I have a family and dependents?

Many students balance their academic degrees with family responsibilities. Co-op supports you in many ways:

Learn about UVic's Indigenous mock interview clinics