In 2016, McCarthy Tétrault established a national legal mentorship program in partnership with the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) to support Indigenous education. This program is the first of its kind among Canadian law firms and it creates a unique mentoring opportunity in which all McCarthy Tétrault’s people — lawyers and staff — can participate.
The program aims to increase high school and university graduation rates and to encourage Indigenous youth to pursue higher levels of education and certification. Better education is necessary to ensure that Indigenous children and youth in Canada have the chance to succeed. McCarthy Tétrault works in partnership with MFI which connects them with Indigenous leaders, educators, and governments.
Working with local schools and Indigenous educational leaders, McCarthy Tétrault’s volunteer mentors plan and facilitate regular group events with their mentees. These events promote development of the mentees’ life skills, support their goals and keep them motivated. School representatives report to McCarthy Tétrault that the mentees show increased confidence, happiness and improved engagement in school activities.
Students say they feel happy that people care
McCarthy Tétrault’s volunteer mentors also make a commitment to educate themselves and others on historical facts and issues that impact Indigenous communities and participate in various cultural sharing activities throughout the program. Some of McCarthy Tétrault’s our program endeavours have included:
- Organizing an awareness campaign for their own people and clients to discuss the issues that affect Indigenous communities across the country.
- Designing, implementing, and overseeing the program by project management professionals.
- In addition to law, providing mentees with access to their best talent in many areas including IT, office services, accounting, project management, human resources, legal support, and marketing so that students have exposure to a vast multitude of opportunities and possible career paths.
- Holding group mentorship events on a regular basis with students, such as:
- Learning workshops: resume writing, how to apply for a job, social media savvy, resilience & stress management, leadership skills games, mock job interviews; financial management for youth and cooking classes.
- Volunteerism: Women’s Centre, United Way, dog walking and food banks.
- Arts & theatre: Cirque de Soleil, Fly over Canada, Museum of Anthropology, Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Museum.
- Sporting/fitness: bowling, hiking, self-defence classes for women, and dodge ball.
- Cultural Sharing: circle discussions, ‘the blanket’ exercise, totem carving demonstration, song/storytelling/prayer, weaving, and various educational events.
All program volunteers care about the issues that impact Indigenous youth and their communities. McCarthy Tétrault’s response to TRC’s, “call to action”—through mentorship and raising awareness. Each volunteer strives to improve the education, health, and wellbeing of Indigenous youth in the most impactful way possible: making a personal commitment to show up, spend the time, and to care.