The Mentoring Effect: Indigenous Youth

Reprinted from MENTOR Canada

Mentor Canada’s Mapping the Mentoring Gap is the first study to provide a detailed portrait of young people’s mentoring experiences across Canada. In the winter of 2020, Mentor Canada surveyed 2,838 young adults and interviewed 19 young adults between the ages of 18 to 30 to learn more about how mentors supported them while they were growing up. In total, 304 survey respondents and two interview participants indicated that they belonged to an Indigenous group.

The study sheds light on the prevalence of informal mentoring relationships Indigenous children and youth developed with supportive adults in their surroundings and formal relationships developed through structured mentoring programs. It also highlights the mentoring gap, the number of Indigenous young adults who recalled a time growing up when they wanted a mentor but did not have one, and the barriers that prevented them from accessing mentorship. For the young people who did have mentors, the study explores the several ways in which mentorship supported their development and the positive influence mentors exerted.

The online survey intentionally included an oversampling of Indigenous respondents. Overall, 11% of the survey respondents identified as Indigenous, including 6% who identified as First Nations, 4% who identified as Métis, and 0.5% as Inuk or Inuit. Two interview participants identified as Indigenous, including one who identified as two-spirit. One-quarter (25%) and Indigenous respondents indicated that they lived in rural and remote communities and 1% reported that they lived in the Territories (for more details about the Indigenous respondents’ demographic characteristics, see Appendix A). For the analysis, respondents were recategorized as identifying as Indigenous or not identifying as Indigenous. Consequently, a limit of this report is that it does not account for regional or cultural variations that exist between respondents who identified as Indigenous.

This report outlines key findings from the Mapping the Mentoring Gap study for Indigenous young people about the following questions:

  • How is mentoring defined in Indigenous cultures?
  • What proportion of young people recall having access to mentorship growing up?
  • What influence do mentoring relationships have on young people’s educational, professional, and personal journeys?
  • What barriers prevent young people from accessing mentorship?

The report concludes with actions that governments, philanthropists, schools, mentoring programs, and individuals and communities can take to close the mentoring gap and increase Indigenous young people’s access to meaningful mentorship opportunities

To access and read the full resource, please click here.