Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.76
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date Oct. 10, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

University of Alberta
PAE-8: Support Programs for Underrepresented Groups

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Lisa Dockman
Program Lead (Outreach & Engagement)
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support, affinity groups, academic support programs, or other programs in place to support underrepresented groups on campus?:

A brief description of the programs sponsored by the institution to support underrepresented groups within the student body:

Canada's Employment Equity Act recognizes four historically disadvantaged groups: Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities and women. For this reason we have specifically focused on Aboriginal peoples, women and people with disabilities for this credit. In addition we included supports for those from sexual and gender minorities. Many of these groups were also identified in UAlberta's Comprehensive Institutional Plan (CIP) to be provided with unique support (see Public Notes section).


First Nation, Metis and Inuit students are supported by the Aboriginal Student Services Centre (ASSC) in the following ways:

- Employing 4 full time and 1 part time staff to implement a suite of services to support Aboriginal students and remove barriers to their success.
- Providing students with part time drop in access to a trained Psychologist and Social Worker
- Hosts a unique and culturally specialized Orientation event for all Aboriginal students who are new to campus
- Provides a daily healthy snacks on the go program and semi-monthly cultural feasts for students
- Hosting the Transition Year Program, a University access program for Aboriginal students who may not be prepared to enter a faculty through the regular admissions route. Each year up to 55 students are admitted to this program and given the opportunity for post-secondary education with additional academic, social, and cultural supports. Example supports include attending full credit courses, University 101 and 102, which teach holistic curricula and focus on stress and coping strategies, transition services, and brings in elders for cultural teachings.
Also, additional tutorials, work space, access to textbooks, lockers, and social events are provided for all TYP students for a nominal fee.
- Provides students with regular access to Elder in Residence and Ceremonial room
- Honouring ceremony at convocation recognizes Aboriginal students with a culturally significant gift and banquet to celebrate their academic achievement.
- Recruitment efforts focusing specifically on Aboriginal student audiences, accomplished by an Aboriginal Recruitment reaching out to remote communities.
- Hosting an annual Aboriginal Education Advisors Conference where anyone who is involved in advising Aboriginal students across Alberta are invited to campus to discover the support systems that exist.
- ASSC provides financial support for students from all faculties to access tutoring support and other academic workshops offered on campus that require a fee. Students can receive up to $250 in financial support for academics per semester.
- ASSC offers reserved on-campus residences for FNMI families and single students.
- ASSC has a student advisor that is available for all prospective and current FNMI students to access for personal, academic and social supports.


Since its inception in 2008, the Council on Aboriginal Initiatives (CAI) have met on a quarterly basis. Self declared Aboriginal students, staff and faculty are supported by the CAI in many ways:

- The CAI is co-chaired by high level senior administration, the Chancellor and the Provost Vice President (Academic) and has representatives from every academic and community level. This 45 member Council consists of five representatives from the Aboriginal student groups on campus, three Deans, various faculty and staff members (from Natives Studies, Education, Law, Medicine and Dentistry, and Nursing), members of the Senate and City of Edmonton employees. This diverse group allows for incredibly rich and expansive discussions and opens up a space for meaningful and consultative dialogue.
- Recently, the CAI struck a subcommittee to work on UAlberta initiatives on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held here in Edmonton on March 27 to 30th, 2014. Several events were held on and off campus, as well as a “Gesture of Reconciliation” created to be read at the TRC by the Chancellor Ralph Young.
- The CAI has also endeavoured to create another subcommittee to discuss the University’s calendar’s definition of the words: First Nation, Metis, Inuit, Aboriginal, self-identify, and self-declaration.
- Hosting large national events such as the, ‘Walking With Our Sisters’ art installation from October 1, 2013 to October 14, 2013.
- CAI subcommittee formed to work with Group2 Architects on the conceptual design of the Gathering Place. Once funding is in place, this Gathering Place will become a place of welcome and cultural affirmation. Not only will the Gathering place affirm the cultural identity of multigeneration Indigenous students, but also be a symbol of good will, unity and intersection. The conceptual design was then presented to CAI for approval and/or suggestions. Fund development continues.

Other events include the annual January round dance, Aboriginal Writer’s workshop, hosting various guest speakers including Chief Wilton Littlechild, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Chancellor of University of Saskatchewan, Blaine Favel.


The Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) at the University of Alberta leads ground breaking research that affects policy development, intervention, education and community outreach for sexual and gender minorities (SGM), nationally and globally

Bringing research, teaching, institutional service, and community outreach together under one umbrella uniquely enables the institute to intersect its studies and services functions in ways that create opportunities for innovative intellectual work and sustained educational and community outreach.

The Institute represents a distinct and holistic model, placing sexual and gender minority studies and services in a dynamic, interdependent relationship. Our research not only helps youth at large, but also guides professional development and education for teachers, social workers, family physicians, psychologists, guidance counselors, and other caring professionals, enabling them to be better resources and advocates for SGM youth and their families.

ISMSS supports SGM students in many ways, such as:

- Providing therapeutic supports to students under 24 through our Family Resilience Project, which includes two drop in groups (trans and gender question youth group, PFLAG group for parents and family members), and individualized counselling.
- Providing resources and support for many sexual and gender minority related groups and their programming on and off campus. Examples include Siderite, the residence-specific LGBTQ student initiative, Outreach, the university-wide LGBTQ student initiative, Outlaw, the LGBTQ student group in Law, and the Sexual Orientations and Gender Identity Advocacy Committee made up of medical students
- Providing leadership opportunities for students to volunteer their time and develop new skills in a variety of ways, including the volunteer-supported annual Camp fYrefly (a summer camp providing youth self-identified as being a sexual and gender minority the opportunity to discover community and increase their knowledge base) and fYrefly in Schools (a Junior and Senior High LGBTQ* awareness and anti-homophobia outreach program).
- Providing mentorship to potential and current students who identify as being a sexual or gender minority, a role that includes advising, referrals, and hosting an open social community for them to participate in with the goal of making post-secondary education more welcoming and accessible to these individuals.


Specialized Support and Disability Services (SSDS) promotes and coordinates the efforts of University departments and off-campus agencies to provide the following services to those with disabilities:

- Providing students with adaptive technology and assistive devices, such as braille devices and software, assistive listening devices, voice input and output software and devices, screen magnification devices and software, alternate formats for print materials, and adaptive technology supported computer labs.
- Delivering a Specialized Support Transition Course for students who are blind or partially sighted, and assists in developing competence in completing university-level coursework with the aid of adaptive technology, provides technology training, and fosters a peer support group for students. Student can also take part in the Program for Student Learning Diversity, which provides academic accommodations and instructional services to help students acquire strategies for learning more effectively and independently, and develop their abilities in skill areas such as reading, writing, studying, personal management, and social interaction.
- Offering communication, advocacy, and counselling support, including interpreting services, note taking services, communication with instructors to advocate disability-related need for accommodations, field and practicum placement supports, exam arrangements and accommodations, and short-term support counselling and advising related to disability issues.
- Conferring of several awards, bursaries, and scholarships for students accessing SSDS services.


Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) encourages more women to pursue science, engineering and technology fields, which currently have an under-representation of women. WISEST has several programs and events to support female students within these areas of study at the U of A and also supports two student networks:

- UAWiSE – an undergraduate support group for women in science, engineering and technology
- WISER – an early career support group for women pursuing science, engineering and technology graduate or PhD studies or careers.


The University of Alberta’s Comprehensive Institutional Plan (CIP), a document that outlines the University’s short- and long-term plans, goals, and resource needs, includes a section entitled Access, that designates groups that the University seeks to support including international students (p. 37), rural students (p. 38), students with disabilities (p. 40), individuals exhibiting at risk behaviour (p. 41), Aboriginal students (p. 41), and students at academic risk (p. 48).

A brief description of the programs sponsored by the institution to support underrepresented groups within the faculty:

It was determined in our data collection process that many of the supports for underrepresented groups within the student body also benefit staff and faculty. However, additional supports include:


Underrepresented groups within our faculty are supported by ISMSS in the following ways:

- Facilitating UAlberta Pride Week, and institutionalized week of educational and social events to being visibility and awareness to the sexual and gender minority community at the University.
- Hosting the Safe Spaces Initiative, a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder action plan to improve the availability of safe spaces and inclusive learning environments on campus. This initiative works with existing supports to identify necessary resources and create an implementation plan.
- Coordinating and delivering workshops to any faculty, staff, or student audience that requests a presentation. The ISMSS education coordinator delivers these sessions to courses and groups to increase their awareness of sexual and gender minorities.
- Hiring, mentoring and supporting graduate and undergraduate students in paid research positions that focus on sexual and gender minority studies.
- Organizing and hosting the annual Inside/OUT Speakers’ Series each month on campus, which profiles leading voices in queer theory, culture and ideas.


SSDS promotes and coordinates the efforts of University departments and off-campus agencies to provide the following services to those with disabilities:

- Providing communication support, including sign language interpreting and real-time captioning services (CART) for staff and faculty members who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Assessing staff and faculty members with disabilities who may benefit from the use of adaptive technology or other specialized equipment, as well as training in those technologies or use of those devices.
- Administering, along with Health Promotion and Work Life Services, the Reasonable Accommodation Fund for staff with disabilities, a central fund that helps departments to offset the costs of reasonable accommodation measures for faculty and staff with disabilities or disabling conditions.


WISEST involves female faculty members in many of its programs by facilitating mentorship opportunities for them and by providing special professional development opportunities such as our Annual Lecture and Inaugural Symposium. These events allow attendees to hear exceptional guest speakers, to network with colleagues and to discuss the issues surrounding the under-representation of female faculty members in science, engineering and technology fields.


The CTL provides leadership and informed support for instructors on campus, by connecting teachers with learning communities, cultivating engagement through research and innovation, linking teaching methods with effective uses of technology, and offering support for existing and emerging eLearning technologies.

Examples of programming for instructors include Breaking the Sound Barrier Workshop that familiarized faculty with the effective use of audio to enhance learning; Local Student Global Citizen: Global Citizenship Symposium that linked local and global issues and perspectives, including human rights, social justice and citizenship education, sustainable development, and globalization; Opening Doors: Creating an Inclusive Excellence in the Academy, a symposium that raised awareness about equity, diversity, and mentoring in the academy.

A brief description of the programs sponsored by the institution to support underrepresented groups within the staff:

It was determined in our data collection process that many of the supports for underrepresented groups within the student body and faculty also support staff. However, additional supports include:


WISEST events and programs often include women who hold technical positions on campus, such as lab technicians. Any individuals who have non-academic positions that still fall within the fields of science, engineering and technology benefit from the events that WISEST often hosts. Our 2014 Inaugural Symposium included women from all areas of these fields and brought them together to discuss challenges and best practices for making a more diverse and inclusive science, engineering and technology community.

The website URL where more information about the programs in each of the three categories is available :

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Additional Responsible Parties:

Suzanne Butler
Transition Year Program Coordinator.

Kristy Burke
WISEST Assistant Coordinator

Kris Wells
Director of Programs & Services

Council on Aboriginal Affairs
Tracy Bear
Special Advisor to the Provost on Aboriginal Initiatives.

Additional Responsible Parties:

Suzanne Butler
Transition Year Program Coordinator.

Kristy Burke
WISEST Assistant Coordinator

Kris Wells
Director of Programs & Services

Council on Aboriginal Affairs
Tracy Bear
Special Advisor to the Provost on Aboriginal Initiatives.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.