New Transitions Coordinator Chad Fisher in the ta-tawâw Student Centre.
Your Gifts. Their Futures.

2023 Donor Story

Helping New Indigenous Students Navigate University

Indigenous students studying in the ta-tawâw Student Centre.

Do you remember your very first year at university? Between finding classrooms, figuring out your schedule, starting coursework, and settling into housing, it can be an overwhelming experience.

The ta-tawâw Student Centre at the University of Regina is helping to make the transition to university-life a little easier for Indigenous students arriving on campus, through a new position at the Centre. The Transition Coordinator navigates many of the hurdles new students regularly encounter – from providing assistance with finding tutors, textbooks and getting student ID, to meeting with Indigenous students one-on-one to make them feel welcome.

"The Transition Coordinator helps smooth out the bumps for students arriving on campus, and are figuring out the logistics of University life," says John Bird, Manager, ta-tawâw Student Centre. "When students arrive at the U of R, many are away from home for the first time. Making sure they feel connected — to their culture and community — is so important for student retention."

Chad Fisher joined the ta-tawâw Student Centre this spring as the new Transition Coordinator.

I'm working with a lot of first-generation university students. When no one in your family has been to university, and you have questions, there's normally no one you can ask. I get that, and I can help. It's not just students from high school; there are older, more mature students too, and it can actually be tougher for them. Whatever their circumstance, we're here to help. – Chad Fisher

This new position was recently created thanks to a $333,000 donation from the Derril McLeod Family Foundation. Named for its founder, former University Chancellor Dr. Derril McLeod BA’44, LLD’90, BAdmin’90, the Foundation has supported a variety of initiatives at the University of Regina including the College Avenue Renewal Project, and the Dr. Derril McLeod Environmental Systems Scholarship. The Foundation was established in 2007 by Dr. McLeod, in perpetuity at the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, to support education and charitable endeavors within the Province of Saskatchewan, with a focus on the advancement of Indigenous people, environmental science, and the fine arts.

“We recognize the importance of such resources as the ta-tawâw Student Centre to ensure Indigenous student success,” says Heather Dufault, representative of the Derril McLeod Family Foundation. “We’re very pleased to be able to support this initiative and we see it as a meaningful way in which our Foundation can help advance reconciliation. If we can inspire others who are in a position to do likewise, this will be for the greater benefit of all of us."

While helping new Indigenous students achieve their academic goals comprises a large part of the job, the ta-tawâw Student Centre places as much value on providing a comfortable base for Indigenous students to check in, visit with friends, and stay connected to their communities.

"The support received from the Derril McLeod Family Foundation has made it possible for the ta-tawâw Student Centre to provide this vital resource to incoming students,” Bird says. “And we're seeing an uptick in Indigenous students connecting with the Centre as a result."