Prison Education Project

McMaster Indigenous Research Institute’s  Prison Education Project  increases access to post-secondary education for incarcerated Indigenous peoples.

The project has three tiers.

TIER I brings university courses into prison settings with a Walls to Bridges Program where incarcerated and university students take courses as peers, earning the same university credit. The tuition for incarcerated students is sponsored by the hosting university. The first Walls to Bridges course at McMaster is scheduled for January 2023, Indigenous Studies 2IR3, Indigenous Resurgence with Dr. Savage Bear and Sara Howdle, PhD Candidate.


What: Indigenous Resurgence Course, INDIGSTD 2IR3
When: Winter Semester 2023, Thursdays 5:30-8:45pm.
Where: Grand Valley Institution for Women, Kitchener, ON (students are responsible for their own transportation).
Questions: There are no bad questions! Email















TIER II is post-incarceration support for students living in transition homes (sometimes known as halfway houses). From the transition house, students attend courses on campus (and pre-covid, in person) for credit or audit. Our team also works closely with students within the transition houses to provide support with assignments, mentoring, sharing circles, and tutoring.

TIER III is a mentorship program which assists formerly incarcerated people who are interested in applying for university as full or part-time students. This mentorship includes administrative and social support, supplies, tutoring, and professional development.

Core Principles of the Prison Education Project

  1. Over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in prisons is a colonial tactic to separate Indigenous peoples from their land and political (kinship) ties. Indigenous peoples belong in their communities, not in colonial prisons.
  2. Our vision is to create a conduit from prison to post-secondary reversing the cycle of generational poverty, homelessness and ill health.
  3. Indigenous peoples experience systemic racism within all Canadian systems creating barriers to assuming positions of power.

This project seeks to provide front-line support to incarcerated Indigenous peoples whose experiences of colonial interference creates barriers to pursuing post-secondary education.

Donations to the Prison Education Project support incarcerated Indigenous peoples with:

  1. Tuition.
  2. Supplies (notebooks, writing implements, art supplies).
  3. Books and Photocopying.
  4. Guest Speaker Honouraria.
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