King’s College, Mount Saint Vincent hire ‘Mi’kmaw auntie’ to help students

Two post-secondary institutions in Mi’kma’ki are turning to a Mi’kmaw auntie to help students adapt to life after high school.

Emily Pictou-Roberts is an alumni of King’s College and said she struggled to get her degree.

“It took me quite a long time as well to do my degree because as you can imagine, with colonial restraints, in an institution like this in having sort of traditional ways of thinking,” she said.

Pictou-Roberts of the Millbrook First Nation is the first Nsukwi’– in residence. Nsukwi’ is Mi’kmaw for auntie.

She’ll be offering cultural, spiritual and academic support for Indigenous students.

“It took me a really long time and it took me many auntie’s that I created myself and stretched a lot of people thin, so what I want to do is be that resource that I really needed,” she said.

Katie Merwin is the dean of students at the University of King’s College.

She hopes the auntie in residences will help attract more Indigenous students.

“I think many universities are primarily white institutions and we want Indigenous students to feel like they can take up all the space they deserve in our campus,” she said. “In our social life, in our academic life, so we think having an auntie will encourage students to showcase who they are and where they come from.”

Pictou-Roberts said she’ll spend one day a week on each campus.

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