Candice Loring standing at Okanagan Lake in West Kelowna. (Athena Bonneau photo)

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

  • Jul. 11, 2020 11:30 a.m.

By Athena Bonneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

In May 2019, Candice Loring was at the late Dr. Gregory Younging’s funeral. A member of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, he was not only a professor at the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), but a publisher of Theytus Books, the oldest Indigenous publishing house in Canada.

“I was sitting in the audience and, you know, remembering being a student and all of my aspirations of working towards the betterment of Indigenous people,” says Loring.

In that moment, Loring felt inspired to go back to the university to work with Indigenous students and professors.

“I just didn’t feel like I was really fulfilling that in my career at the time, and I left my job that week after his funeral,” she says.

Loring then phoned up Mitacs, a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs. She called to see if the job she had been offered the winter before was still available. At the time she had declined because she felt fulfilled, that feeling had since changed.

“I followed this opportunity out of passion,” she says.

In August 2019, Loring was officially offered the first Indigenous-specific position with Mitacs. She is now the organization’s director of business development and Indigenous community engagement.

“Indigenous communities are my focus, and working with Indigenous-owned businesses and organizations or communities working with their economic development corporations,” Loring says.

When it comes to the Indigenous projects, Mitacs wants to ensure that the organization is not repeating historical wrongs.

In order to accomplish this, “the research is community-led and driven by the community or the Indigenous organization,” she says.

In fact, adds Loring, “We have an extensive network of highly skilled research students. I can bring students in from our national network across Canada.”

One of Mitacs’ internships alone is $15,000 and is four to six months long. The nonprofit funds 55 per cent and the partner organization funds 45 per cent. The research student spends half of their time with the partner organization and the other half with their academic supervisor.

“Some of the projects we do are pretty incredible,” Loring says.

This year, one of those projects comes from Melissa Tremblay. She’s a Metis woman who completed her PhD at the University of Alberta, where she is currently an assistant professor of educational psychology. Tremblay developed Successful Families, a supportive housing program designed for young mothers to stay together with their children in safer environments. It has already shown a positive impact. So much so that Tremblay went on to win Mitacs’ first award in the Indigenous categories, for outstanding innovation.

When an Indigenous community or business has a research or innovation need they can turn to Loring and Mitacs.

For instance, an Indigenous community recently reached out to Mitacs because one of their lakes has been contaminated and they need support.

“Then we would be bringing in doctors who specialize in marine biology and then figure out how we can get the contaminants out of that lake,” Lorings says.

The different opportunities Mitacs can offer is driven by the people if Indigenous communities have a need and are asking for something to be done, Mitacs will provide guidance.

“It’s an industry, organizational pull model in which the research is done through the lens of that partner organization,” Loring says.

For Loring, working to support Indigenous students and communities is meaningful.

A mother of two, Loring is a member of the Gitwangak band from the Gitxsan Nation, located in Kitwanga, B.C. She grew up in a small community with low socioeconomic status and dropped out of high school in Grade 10.

“My mom being a single mom, my sisters both struggled with addiction, drug addiction. My father was an alcoholic and there were a lot of things in my life that definitely influenced me to not try,” she says.

University became an unattainable dream for Loring. She started her family at the young age of 23, and knew she wanted to be a role model for children, encouraging them to never give up trying. Though it took her time to find that resolve.

“I talked about losing hope or losing that dream at some point, that I didn’t think I could achieve anything I wanted to,” she says.

Loring returned to school through the Aboriginal Access Studies program at UBCO in January 2012.

“I found myself in a colonial institution at UBCO, truly finding myself as an Indigenous person and learning about colonization of the mind, and understanding why I felt so disconnected to my community, into my culture,” Loring says.

Now, she says, “I wake up every day feeling blessed and grateful that I have this opportunity and to continue to help businesses with their economic stimulus through COVID-19 and post-COVID-19.”

“I surely believe everyone is one choice away from changing the rest of their life.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

IndigenousUBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Campbell River businesses not immune to mask refusals and disturbances

Police have not handed out fines yet under the new provincial mandate

The Rotary Rock and Roll trail ready to ride. Photo supplied by Bryan Yells
PHOTOS: River City Cycle Club opens new mountain bike trail

Trail building seen as way of giving back to trail network

Campbell River fire crews had a busy day on Nov. 28, 2020. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River fire crews kept busy on Saturday

Medical, vehicle and fire calls kept crews moving all day

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Community Kitchen blessed by Laichwiltach First Nation

Hama?Elas Community Kitchen will provide safe place to eat for Campbell River’s vulnerable

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read