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

BC Ferries’ Northern Expedition holding in Port Hardy while technicians repair the S-radar. The sailing was delayed by two days, leaving passengers stranded. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Northern Expedition rescheduled to sail for Bella Bella, Prince Rupert after mechanical issues

The S-radar malfunctioned twice, causing a two-day delay in Port Hardy

The River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch for the area, including the Bella Coola River and tributaries, Kingcome River, Owikeeno-Rivers Inlet, and surrounding areas.
Wuikinuxv under evacuation order, more rain in forecast

Bella Coola’s Hill has re-opened but road conditions are muddy and wet

One person was killed in a two-vehicle crash south of Williams Lake on Highway 97 Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (Photo submitted)
Highway 97 crash south of Williams Lake claims one life

Road conditions at the time were slippery and covered with slush: RCMP

Highway 20 is closed from the top Avalanche gate to the bottom Avalanche gate as of 19:30 on Tuesday October 27, 2020 (WL Tribune photo)
Rockslide closes the Hill as rain pours down in Bella Coola

Bad weather has resulted in rockfall on the Hill on Highway 20

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Central Coast including Bella Coola River (file photo)
Flood watch issued for Bella Coola River

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Bella Coola River

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

BC Ferries lower car deck. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Northern Expedition ferry holding in Port Hardy

Radar issues caused the ferry to turn around

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read