What better way to be heard than to speak together?


What is BIRM?

In the Building Intercultural Resilience Mentorship program (BIRM) post-secondary students from the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI), and Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) will be connected with Indigenous high school students in Saskatoon Public Schools to build relationships through shared experiences, interests, and goals. 

BIRM is structured as a wrap-around network of inspiration and support for the participants, and they are able to develop mentor-mentee relationships that will be intercultural on many levels (i.e., education, age, race/ethnicity/culture, etc.). 

The participants meet regularly with the support of the Program Coordinator to engage in leadership opportunities, career exploration, goal setting, learning Indigenous cultures and languages, land-based experiences, and developing academic skills. The program culminates with an expenses paid year-end trip for selected mentors and students to various locations across Canada, such as Banff, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba, where participants celebrate their completed commitment and learnings from the year. 


This opportunity is available through the partnership of USask's Office of the Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement and Saskatoon Public Schools.

“BIRM stands for building intercultural resilience mentorship. To me, BIRM is building necessary life skills along with building relationships with fellow classmates and mentors that join us in the sessions. When designing the logo for BIRM I thought of the skills and relationships that we made and wanted to visualize what BIRM means to me as a student. The medicine wheel represents the stages of life and the four seasons and symbolizes the time we spend together as students and teachers. The tree represents the growing and learning that we are doing together. I hope that BIRM helps other students like me in the future, since it's our first year together and maybe I can mentor students in the future when I go to university.” - Kyla Head

Why participate?

  • To support, inspire, and learn from/with the next generation of Indigenous youth in achieving their highest aspirations.

  • To be an active participant in the improvement of outcomes for Indigenous youth in our community.

  • Gain experience collaborating with others and leading group activities.
  • Develop communication and public speaking skills.

  • Deepen your understanding of Indigenous languages and cultures.

  • Meaningful volunteer hours and a personal reference from the Program Coordinator (available upon request).

  • A formal entry on your co-curricular record.

    Co-Curricular Record Approved Logo

Success is not measured by how well you have followed someone else’s path but by how you have pushed yourself to achieve your own goals.

What is expected of you?

We are seeking mentors from all cultural backgrounds and colleges! We are recruiting from backgrounds and colleges at USask, GDI and SIIT.

Interested post-secondary students must be out of high school for no less than 2 years to participate (Graduated after 2022 or over the age of 20). There is no GPA requirement and you do not have to be Indigenous to apply. BIRM is creating a unique intercultural experience for student, therefore we are seeking as many diverse mentors as possible. Indigenous students who apply to be a mentor are not expected to be cultural experts or lead programming unless they volunteer to do so. We are learning together! 

Volunteers will be expected to participate in the planning and implementation of the program activities, with the help of their Program Coordinator. Volunteers will be placed in cohorts and deliver the programming in person at their designated school from September to the end of April. Weekly sessions will follow the University calendar (including statutory holidays and breaks), however there will be additional opportunities to be involved 12 months a year. 

Volunteer mentors will need to commit a total of 2 hours per week per term to be eligible for the co-curricular record. Additionally, the volunteers are expected to participate in training and assessment before, during, and after the duration of the program year. Volunteers are expected to make time for studying, work, appointments, and other personal commitments outside of their mentor time. This is not a drop-in program and we require and firm commitment from all volunteers to protect the integrity of our relationships with the students we support. 

BIRM staff and volunteers are obligated to follow the rules and regulations according to the Saskatoon Public Schools administrative procedures. The review of these procedures is a part of the mandatory in-person training that all volunteers must attend at the end of August. There is no make up time available for this training. 

This is a volunteer position. There is no monetary payment for the time you give. However, the impact of the relationships you can build is priceless.


To become a mentor, you will need to:

  • Commit to 2 hours of volunteer time every week during both terms (studying, appointments, errands, and other personal tasks must be done outside of these hours).
  • Submit an online application
    • Please note that the application will be open from February 26, 2024 - May 1, 2024.
  • Participate in a group interview with the BIRM program staff to assess your suitability and placement in the program.
  • Be available for mentorship training which will take place over three days during the last week of August 2024. Although some of the training will be available online, you must be available for in person training during these days.
  • Provide a current criminal record check with the vulnerable sector
    • this can be obtained at no cost to you with a letter from the Program Coordinator, but you must obtain it on your own time. 

Impact Report

See the impact the Building Intercultural Resilience Mentorship (BIRM) program has had:

BIRM 2021-2022 Year Review


Create meaningful change for Indigenous youth to achieve their goals and better our communities.


Contact us

Contact the BIRM Director Nahanni Olson at nahanni.olson@usask.ca for information on how to become a mentor.

BIRM in the media: 

Be sure to follow us on Instagram  @birmyxe and facebook Birm YXE to stay up to date with all of our adventures! 

Global news: USask mentorship program encouraging Indigenous high school students

YXE-Underground podcast: Season Four, Episode Three - Nahanni Olson 

CKOM News: USask providing mentorship to Indigenous high school students