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Ontario students heading north to mentor students in First Nations community

Kendra Mangione, CTVNews.ca

A group of Ontario university students is heading north on a humanitarian project to help mentor students living on a First Nations reserve.

Members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, often refer to their reserve as the "forgotten north."

But a group of Queen's University students is organizing a trip to the reserve to make connections with the youth and show them they are not forgotten.

From April 28 to May 9, thirteen students will visit KI, as part of an annual humanitarian program put on by the school's rotary club. In previous years, the club has gone to El Salvador to build houses.

Last year, Queen's student Annie Hollis visited KI and felt inspired by the youth she met there. She promised them she would come back.

"We're going back to create a connection that will last hopefully beyond the trip," Hollis told CTV's Canada AM.

The reserve has one high school that only goes up to Grade 11. Students who wish to continue to Grade 12 must leave the community and fly to high schools in Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay.

Hollis told Canada AM she was shocked by the conditions of the education system and quality of housing. "It's something that we hear about in other countries far away and we're absolutely disgusted that these kind of conditions exist."

Alex Glasser, one of the trip's organizers, told Canada AM the group hopes to mentor students, helping them develop their ideas for community improvement.

"We just want to give them a venue through which they can show their ideas," Glasser said.

"The youth know what needs to be done in their community and they know how to do it to a certain degree, but we want to provide them with the resources that they haven't been getting," Hollis said.

During the group's visit, they will help with renovation projects, and run leadership and public speaking seminars.

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