Bishop’s students to travel to Belize and Japan – An opportunity to learn across Indigenous cultures

Bishop’s students to travel to Belize and Japan – An opportunity to learn across Indigenous cultures

Bishop’s University has been awarded two Global Skills Opportunity grants for two international mobility programs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to come together and learn about Indigenous cultures in Belize or Japan.

The $800,000 Belize program grant has been awarded to the Maple League of institutions (Acadia University, Mount Allison University, and Bishop’s University) to develop and launch a program for Indigenous students to participate in an international experience together. The program known as “Nation to Nation: Building Indigenous Knowledge Across International Borders” will see 60 students from the four institutions travel to Belize to learn about the experiences of the Yucatec, Mopan, Garifuna, and K’eckchi peoples. Collaborating with Galen University in Belize, students will learn about language preservation, Indigenous governance, the environment, land rights, Indigenous innovations, and cultural heritage through food and education.

The Japan project entitled “Communicating Across Cultures: Building Intercultural Competencies and Lasting Partnerships in Japan Using an Indigenous Wholistic Framework” will allow 12 Bishop’s students to travel to Japan for three weeks each year. The grant received for the Japan program totals $274,000. In collaboration with Hokkaido University’s Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies, students will gather in talking circles, attend seminars and engage in meaningful dialogue and land-based and community activities. Learning will be facilitated both inside and outside of the university setting, with experiences that will foster a greater understanding of Japanese and Ainu history, land and cultures.

The federal government’s new Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) program, officially launched in early November, is expected to enable more than 16,000 Canadian college and undergraduate-level university students to acquire the global skills employers want and the Canadian economy needs.

The $95 million GSO program is a component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy and is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada. Administered jointly by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada, the program has been designed to allow participating colleges, universities and institutes to customize projects to their students’ needs.

While open to all Canadian postsecondary students, the program targets groups for whom such experiences have traditionally been less accessible – specifically Indigenous students, students from low-income backgrounds and those living with disabilities. It also aims to diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning.

Bishop’s will begin recruiting students for both programs in December, with the selection to take place in early January. Both projects will take place in May 2022, 2023 and 2024.

“We hope that students will have the chance to discuss these opportunities with their communities, Elders, families and friends over the December break. For instance, we know that many Indigenous students have various commitments in their home communities after the Winter semester, and that community support will be important for them to dedicate time to travel in May,” indicates Annick Corbeil, Manager of Bishop’s International and Student Life.

“We are looking for students who are eager to learn as much in Japan or Belize as they will from one another.  This is very much a group learning experience that will require tremendous curiosity and humility from each participant,” Corbeil adds.

The Maple League Global Skills Opportunity Belize program, along with the Bishop’s Japan GSO program, are two among the 124 such programs offered through 56 Universities across Canada.

The participation in this Global Skills Opportunity demonstrates Bishop’s University’s commitment to offering an outstanding learning experience centred on its students’ quest for academic excellence, strongly focused on the need of its diverse and inclusive community.

“The Belize and Japan programs are also another step on the path to reconciliation and decolonizing international education,” says Corbeil.



Sonia Patenaude
Manager of Communications
Bishop’s University
819-822-9600 ext. 2617