Indigenous exchange program receives national recognition


- Joy Poliquin

The UVic team (Indigenous International Work-Integrated Learning Exchange Program), l-r: LE,NONET Academic Manager Rob Hancock; International Co-op Programs Manager Karima Ramji; LE,NONET Experiential and Community Learning Coordinator Renée Livernoche; Acting Executive Director of Co-op and Career Andrea Giles; Associate Director of IACE Lalita Kines; and Coordinator of International Co-op Programs Mami Schouten. Not pictured: Executive Director of IACE Robina Thomas.

UVic’s unique exchange that connects Indigenous students studying here with co-op work terms with Indigenous centres at Australian universities has received the Canadian Bureau of International Education’s (CBIE) Panorama Award.

This national award recognizes innovation and excellence in the design and implementation of high-quality international programming that supports students’ academic and extracurricular learning as well as capacity-building.

It is an honour to receive this award because it acknowledges the importance of WIL Exchange programs and the invaluable experiences they offer Indigenous students.

— Robina Thomas, executive director of UVic’s Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement

World's first known exchange of its kind

As the first known exchange of its kind, the Indigenous International Work Integrated Learning Exchange Program was launched in 2015 through a partnership between the UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services and the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement, with funding from the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships Fund.

The program facilitates a hybrid work/academic exchange for Indigenous students at UVic, as well as Indigenous students at the University of Newcastle, Macquarie University and RMIT University in Australia. UVic students complete work terms with Indigenous centres at these institutions, while incoming Australian students take part in UVic’s LE,NOṈET and complete a community-engaged learning experience.

We are proud of this unique program and of the extraordinary opportunities for learning that it provides to our students. Students participate in a meaningful exchange of cultural and academic knowledge—these experiences are transformative.

— Andrea Giles, acting executive director of UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services

Engaging in experiential internships

A key element of this exchange is Indigenous community engagement. Through LE,NONET, Australian Indigenous exchange students engage with UVic Indigenous students through the sharing of historical, cultural, and traditional ways of knowing and being. This prepares students to engage in an experiential internship in an Indigenous community or organization.

“These experiences are life changing and allow Indigenous students to explore, from a global perspective, both the similarities of colonization and also, importantly, the similarities of cultural, traditional and land-based teachings,” says Robina Thomas, executive director of the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement. "As countries around the world engage in processes of reconciliation, work-integrated learning programs are a careful and respectful step forward.”

The UVic team received the award this month at the CBIE Annual Conference in Winnipeg.

Find out more

Hear from two UVic alumni who have taken part in this award-winning exchange

Learn about the Indigenous International Work-Integrated Learning Exchange Program

Provincial award, earlier this year (BCCIE)

More info for outbound students 


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Keywords: international, indigenous, award, co-op

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