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

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

Head chef Travis Ashley dumps the first load of lobsters into the vats of boiling saltwater. (Jim Taylor - Contributed)
150 lobsters served in Lake Country drive-thru fundraiser

Rotary Club sees success in unique COVID-friendly lobster dinner event

Morning Star columnist Sam McNair puts the business spotlight on Expressions of Time in his latest article. (Sam McNair - Contributed)
Small Business Spotlight: Vernon bookstore specializes in more than literature

Expressions of Time is a beloved asset to the local business community

Fire truck.
Scooter struck in downtown Vernon

Traffic may be affected around 30th Avenue

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu. (Contributed)
Vernon MLA marks International Women’s Day with first in-person legislature appearance

Harwinder Sandhu to speak in local panel hosted by CFUW later tonight

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

It's tick season in South Okanagan.
Tick season has started in South Okanagan

A Penticton adventure company collected 200 ticks last year to be studied for Lyme Disease

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Phase four of the Kicking Horse Canyon project would twin the winding stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Golden. ~ Photo by B.C. Ministry of Transportation
Additional closures announced to Trans-Canada east of Golden

Additional closures will be needed in May as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

Dawn Low first moved “upstairs” to the administrative department of the City of Revelstoke in 2009. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
120 years later, first female CAO appointed in Revelstoke

International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria,… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
COSAR called to rescue missing skier near Big White

Fortunately, the skier found his way out of the area

Most Read