© Tsista Kennedy, Visual Illustrator, IFA
The future of technology is embracing Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and the Indigenous Friends Association’s IndigiTECH Mentorship Program is leading the way.
The Indigenous Friends Association (IFA) is a registered charity that provides hands-on educational and training programs rooted in Indigenous pedagogies and worldviews. The organization has a wealth of experience and expertise in delivering successful programs that focus on technology, coding, design, and digital arts.
The IFA is making strides in advancing digital pathways rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and being through its IndigiTECH Mentorship Program, which aims to provide digital literacy skills and employment support to Indigenous Peoples who are interested in pursuing careers in technology and development. In an effort to provide individuals with contemporary, in-demand tech-based skills and career development applications and teachings, IFA collaborates with leading industry organizations. The vision is to empower Indigenous Peoples to leverage technology to amplify their worldviews, tech equity, and digital sovereignty.
Alejandro Mayoral Banos, Executive Director and Founder of IFA, said, “The IndigiTECH Mentorship Program has not only provided participants with valuable tech education but also a sense of community and connection through Indigenous pedagogies and practices. It is a program that truly supports the holistic well-being and career development of Indigenous individuals.”
“The program works to create diverse and inclusive virtual learning spaces, which work to honour connectedness, belonging and mutual support so that we are all valued and appreciated. We believe in fostering impactful learning communities where everyone can access the resources and opportunities needed to thrive throughout our program, honouring each participant’s unique journey into both equitable and sustainable virtual careers and internship opportunities,” shared Katelyn Bartlett, IndigiTECH Mentorship Officer.
The program takes a whole-student approach that combines tech-based learning with Indigenous pedagogies and ways of knowing, such as land-based learning, art, and exploring Indigenous innovation and technologies with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and area specialists. Our program aims to give individuals the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing tech-driven world.
In the process of providing valuable work experience to the program participants, IFA collaborates with organizations for internship opportunities in tech roles that align with the interests and skills of our participants. Recently, IFA partnered with Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence to provide internship opportunities for the program participants.
“Through this partnership, Vector has been able to continue our journey fostering equity, inclusion and diversity across the AI ecosystem and within our own community—hiring two interns who have proved to be qualified and supported our organization’s strategic objectives,” said Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
IFA is committed to collaborating with more industry partners to offer internship opportunities to Indigenous Peoples.
The Indigenous Friends Association (IFA) is an Indigenous-led tech not-for-profit organization that ignites the Spirit of Indigenous communities to create, engage and renovate digital technologies through ethical and communal values.