Lakehead University wants its First Nation students to feel welcome.
On Wednesday the school held an Aboriginal orientation session to introduce native access program students to the services available on campus and in the community.
"It's a bit daunting when you're coming out of some of the remote communities and into an urban centre that you're not accustomed to navigating," said Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, vice-provost of Aboriginal Initiatives.
The native access program is for students in need of additional academic support and skills to meet requirements of university courses.
Because of teacher turnover and the lack of capacity in some remote communities for subjects like chemistry and other sciences, Wesley-Esquimaux said some First Nation students' educational backgrounds are not as strong.
"They come into high school and they don't know they need those things," she said, adding it's also a struggle for many students to find affordable accommodations.
There is also some social exclusion still happening in Thunder Bay that is being dealt with, said Wesley-Esquimaux.
However, there are many services on campus to help students make the transition to university like the Aboriginal and Cultural Support Services and the Aboriginal Initiatives Office.
Joshua Sinoway is entering his first year of the Indigenous Learning program at Lakehead and said Wednesday's orientation session was comforting.
"It makes you feel welcomed and it introduces you to a lot of great services," he said, noting it's also a good way to meet new people.
Sinoway is looking at a variety of possible career paths, including law, social work and teaching.
Lakotah Williams is also looking at law school as a possibility after completing the Indigenous Learning program and said she found the orientation valuable by learning about the services available.
"I think it welcomes some of the students and they try to make them feel comfortable, whether you're from Thunder Bay or you're coming from either up north or down south," she said.
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