Two Halifax universities provide Mi'kmaq 'auntie-in-residence' to Indigenous students

Emily Pictou-Roberts poses in this undated handout photo. Two Halifax universities are sharing a Mi'kmaq

Two Halifax universities are sharing a Mi'kmaq "auntie-in-residence" who is assisting Indigenous students to navigate campus life.

In a news release today, Mount Saint Vincent University and the University of King's College said they are welcoming Emily Pictou-Roberts as their first Nsukwi' -- "auntie" in English -- to provide cultural, emotional and spiritual support to students.

The 28-year-old says there are about 164 Indigenous students at Mount Saint Vincent University and about 30 at King's College.

She says universities can be intimidating environments for Indigenous students, who she says often feel as though they are part of a small minority in an overwhelmingly non-Indigenous environment.

Pictou-Roberts says she sees her position as an extension of the traditional role of a Mi'kmaq auntie -- a person who attempts to "take care" of others.

She says she will help students who are struggling academically or want to explore their Indigenous language and heritage.

Pictou-Roberts says women in Mi'kmaq culture are considered keepers of knowledge who help guide people through the challenges of life.