Biidaaban Community Service-Learning (BCSL)

Biidaaban Community Service-Learning Page Header Photo

Sunrise over lake Nipissing

COVID-19 Update: Fall 2021

For the latest information on COVID-19, please visit our Nipissing University Updates on Coronavirus webpage

Biidaaban Community Service-Learning (BCSL) symbolizes the beginning of new partnerships designed to enhance the lives of students and communities.

Pronounced bee-daw-bun, Biidaaban is an Anishinaabe term, meaning: ‘the point at which the light touches the earth at the break of dawn.’

Community Service-Learning (CSL) is a form of experiential learning that addresses community needs. Faculty incorporate CSL opportunities in their courses for students to support community organizations in many ways. This interactive, reciprocal and community-engaged approach to education is followed by meaningful reflection to help consolidate notions learned in class and in community.

A reciprocal relationship between faculty, community partners and students is central to CSL. Keep reading to learn more about how our office can support the CSL process.

Community Service-Learning Reciprocal Relationships Diagram

Enji giigdoyang, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII), offers Faculty a number of administrative and logistical supports for the creation and delivery of experiential learning opportunities for their students via the Biidaaban Community Service-Learning program.

Creating a CSL experience

CSL activities address specific community needs. For example: housing, food security, health, advocacy, education, etc. They align with community partner mandates, goals and objectives. 

To help build your CSL activity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the goals and learning outcomes of my course?
  • Where, or how, could my students gain a greater understanding of these notions outside of the classroom?
  • What kind of experiential learning will benefit students in my course?  
  • Which community partner(s) might be a good fit for my course?
  • How does this relate to the organization's mandate?
  • What process will I require from my students to integrate placements? (interviews, training, etc.)
  • How many hours should I assign to this activity, 10 hours, 20 hours, 40 hours?
  • How will I assess student learning?
  • How will I connect their experiences to theory in the course? 
  • How will students record or share their experiences?
  • How will this benefit students, community partner(s), Indigenous community, myself?
  • What reflective assignment will follow the experience?

Once your activity has been developed, include the following in your syllabus:

  • CSL activity (marketing products, research, communication plan, outreach strategy, translation, fund raising ideas, etc.)
  • Name of community partner 
  • Corresponding reflective assignment (journal, year end presentation, essay, in-class discussion, etc.)
  • Grade (20 hours for 20%, 10 hours minimum for 5%, etc.)
  • Biidaaban Learning Series: BCSL offers a series of free training workshops for students entering CSL placements at Nipissing University in FA/WI 21/22. The workshops series will take place throughout the last week of September 2021 and include Anti-Racism Workshops, Understanding Non-Profits 101, Sexual Violence and Prevention Training, Gender 101, Healthy Boundaries, and more.  
  • Timeline (due dates, deliverables, etc.)
  • Roles and responsibilities (Faculty, student or student team lead, community partner, CSL Officer, etc.)

CSL can be an optional, or required assignment for students in your class.

The CSL Officer is available to meet with you to plan and brainstorm. We are also available to provide in-class presentations to introduce CSL at the start of the term.

Why incorporate CSL into my course?

  • Supports community
  • Creates connections between community partners, faculty and students
  • Students gain volunteer experience
  • Students are more engaged in class
  • Students integrate classroom theory and experience
  • Facilitates a dynamic learning environment 
  • Opportunity for meaningful reflection 

Administrative supports for Faculty

Enji giigdoyang, the Office of indigenous Initiatives (OII), offers Faculty a number of administrative and logistical supports for the creation and delivery of a CSL experiential learning opportunity in the following ways:

  • Finding placement/volunteer opportunities for students
  • Liaising with community partners
  • Registering your students' CSL volunteer activities in the Record of Student Development (RSD) database
  • Ensuring students get their Police Vulnerable Sector Checks (PVSC)
  • Providing students with agreement forms to bring to their placement
  • Providing students with time sheets
  • Checking in with community partner
  • Aiding with travel plans, itineraries, and bookings (ex.: booking bus to Dokis First Nation) 
  • Getting students to complete online Health and Safety training
  • Room bookings
  • Smudge requests
  • Printing
  • In-class presentations
  • Conducting student interviews
  • Conducting student surveys
  • Attending in-class discussions and final project presentations


Biidaaban Learning Series will take place virtually with workshops happening from September 27th to October 5th. To register for these workshops, contact Carrie Demers at If you are unable to attend these workshops live, please contact us to access the recording.  


Students who complete CSL projects or placements are eligible to receive a certificate from the Office of Indigenous Initiatives acknowledging their work in support of local community.

What types of volunteer activities can students do while on CSL placement?

Students put theory into practice to gain a greater understanding of Indigenous community and non-profits by:  

  • Assisting with programming, projects or events
  • Creating meaningful programming to support clients and community
  • Generating content, planning and engaging with social media 
  • Attending community meetings/events, board meetings, volunteer meetings, etc. 
  • Researching grants and writing proposals
  • Planning events and supporting logistics
  • Augmenting accessibility to resources 
  • Assisting with fundraising 
  • Creating and updating print materials and communication tools
  • Tutoring
  • Creating new resources for community partners and the people they support
  • Updating websites 
  • Entering data 
  • Building awareness
  • Technical and administrative support
  • Recording stories and experiences 
  • Augmenting reach and visibility of organisation
  • Translating
  • Assisting with strategic planning
  • Drafting and conducting surveys
  • Research
  • Developing marketing tools
  • Providing creative services
  • Developing strategies in response to presented challenges 
  • Participating in outreach and public education 
  • Advocacy work

Connecting course content to community experiences

This can occur through class discussion, sharing circles, check-ins, weekly journaling, blogging, or other methods of sharing.

Faculty are responsible for initiating regular and ongoing discussion about student experiences. 

The CSL experience allows students to connect course curriculum to what they learn in community. Consider asking why they think certain things might be happening: social issues, lack of human resources, funding, need for volunteers, etc. using lived experience as the starting point for reflection.

CSL activities must be in alignment with the community partner's mandate, goals and objectives. It must enhance their capacity. Think of your intentions for student learning. What are the goals of your course and how do they relate to the organization's mandate?

Community partners

You may already have a community partner in mind, or you may want to connect with partners who are familiar with this program, having hosted students in the past.

BCSL would like to thank the following: North Bay, Nipissing First Nation, Dokis First Nation, Temagami First Nation, and surrounding area partners for supporting and providing Community Service-Learning opportunities to Nipissing University students:

Reflective assignments

Reflection is key to Community Service-Learning. Types of reflective assignments include: 

  • In-class discussion, discussion groups or debriefing
  • Journals
  • Essays
  • Collaborative projects
  • Oral presentations  
  • Portfolio
  • Group journal
  • Letter to self
  • Reflective interview
  • Artistic reflection

Student assessment

Marks may be tied to placement attendance, participation in group discussion, reflective assignments, and more. Remember, you are marking the reflection and learning that comes from placement experience, not the placement itself.

Student learning is a combination of notions explored in community and in class. Reflective assignments and responses allow students to integrate knowledge and illustrate learning. 

Attendance: Students may be required to complete a certain amount of hours (10, 20, 40, etc.). A time sheet helps them keep track of hours. This time sheet can be provided by the CSL team and should be signed by a placement supervisor to confirm attendance.

The Biidaaban Community Service-Learning program connects community organizations with university students and faculty, to work on community generated projects for course credit. Read on to learn more about the various experiential learning opportunities you can create for students to support your organization. 

In what ways can a student support my organization? 

Students can support in a number of ways.

They bring knowledge and skills learned in university courses to organizations, increasing their capacity to meet community needs.

Project-based CSL. Community organizations submit projects to be completed by university students for course credit. The work is done in class,  under the guidance of the professor, and outcomes are shared with the community partner once finished. Students can support by:  

  • Developing marketing tools 
  • Creating social media content and other communications
  • Developing community outreach strategies
  • Drafting and conducting surveys
  • Assisting with programming, projects or events
  • Creative services
  • Maintaining engagement on social media platforms
  • Augmenting organization reach 
  • Creating meaningful programming to support clients and community
  • Entering data
  • Attending community meetings/events, board meetings, volunteer meetings, etc.
  • Support event planning and logistics
  • Administrative support
  • Researching grants and writing proposals
  • Assisting with fundraising 
  • Creating and updating print materials
  • Creating resources for community partners and the people they support
  • Hosting a Facebook live event
  • Reviewing print materials and online platform content, making recommendations
  • Participating in outreach and public education 
  • Advocacy work
  • Conducting research
  • Etc.

Some project components must be presented virtually by the community organization (using Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams. etc.):

  • Community organization to touch base with the class, or designated leads, a few times during the school term for feedback.
  • Students to present project outcomes to organization.

Other optional project components (virtual):

  • Students to attend staff, volunteer, or board meetings
  • Virtual tour of organization physical spaces
  • Meet and greet with other staff, clients, or other folks as requested 
  • Sharing Circles
  • Etc.

How do I submit a project opportunity?

To submit an opportunity, fill in the "Project Proposal Template" below. We will be happy to discuss ideas and answer questions! 


Students can provide from 10 to 20 hours of service per term. 

  • Fall term: September to November 2021 (Exams in December)
  • Winter term: January to March 2022 (Exams in April)

Students provide, on average, 1-4 hours of service per week, spending time in class working on a project for the organization. Some courses last one term only (4 months) and others last the entire school year (8 months). Some courses are only offered in the first term, some are only offered in the second term. 

Community organizations can choose to work with a class for one term only, for an entire school year, or with 2 separate classes during each term. Multiple projects can be submitted and worked on by students.  

A timeline should be developed between the community organizations and the class teacher. 

Need a student for a single event?

Submit event details to Makayla Nowee at 705-474-3450 ext. 4586 or email We will attempt to find a student who meets your requirements. 



Community Partners


A number of free training opportunities are offered to students entering CSL experiences. The Biidaaban Learning Series will take place on September 27th to October 5th. Please contact Carrie Demers to access the recordings if you were unable to attend the live training.


- Biidaaban Certificate of participation: Students who completed CSL projects or placements receive a certificate acknowledging their work in support of local community.

Common concerns about remote or virtual CSL experiences

"Will my virtual CSL experience be as valuable as an in-person one?"

A virtual experience is just as legitimate as an in-person one. You need these to build up your resume and your future careers. The BCSL team makes every effort to pair up students with projects and partners that work in fields of interest to students. Committing yourself to such an experience will serve you professionally in the future. Most learned skills are transferable. From working with children, organizing a fund raiser, producing a communication plan, hosting a Facebook event, doing online outreach or creating programming, these skills will serve you across many fields and in many professional settings.

Since many students have had limited access to work since the start of the pandemic, a virtual placement or CSL project is as close as students can get to hands on, real-life experience. This experience could land you a new reference, a community connection, new perspectives. CSL allows students to gain access and insights into organisations like no other. 

Additionally, many organisations have satellite offices, partners in other cities, clients in other territories and countries. Learning to work and connect with people from a distance will prepare you for a future career.

"I was hoping to network with partners but am now unsure of how to build those relationships."

A huge part of the CSL experience is building relationships and networking with supervisors, colleagues, volunteers and clients. There will be opportunities to connect with folks via virtual team meetings, email, phone, and through your work. Positive interactions, be they virtual or in-person, do not go unnoticed. If you participate and contribute ideas, knowledge and positive energy to the CSL project, your investment will pay off. Think about ways that you can use networks like Zoom to help build relationships

"Without in person supervision, how will I know what is expected of me?" 

The CSL project will be planned and reviewed ahead of time, and be presented to you in class, prior to starting your virtual placement, or CSL project. A timeline, list of roles and responsibilities, agreement forms, training, and a student handbook will also be provided. Setting clear expectations is the responsibility of the community partner and faculty. If something is not clear, it is your responsibility to ask for clarification. If you do have questions, ask yourself if you know how to reach out to your community partner representative, team members, classmates, and teacher?   

Managing change 

Change can be stressful. Self-care, communication and flexibility will be your best assets. Every effort will be made by the BCSL team, your teacher and community organisations to inform you of any possible changes and next steps as far ahead of time as possible. A lot of students have lost jobs, and opportunities in the future seem increasingly uncertain. Your supportive role, working collaboratively and productively on projects that aid community as a whole, is valuable. Always remember that you are not alone. 

Questions about your placement

Still have questions about your placement? We are happy to help! Contact us:

Makayla Nowee

Community Service-Learning Officer
Enji giigdoyang, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Nipissing University
(705) 474-3450 Ext. 4586

Carrie Demers

Student Placement Coordinator
Enji giigdoyang, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Nipissing University
(705) 474-3450 Ext. 4684


Incorporating Community Service-Learning (CSL) into your courses this Fall 2020. Click here to view the recorded webinar

When: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 / 12-1pm EDT


As we gear up to offer online courses this Fall, we consider the challenges our students and community partners have been facing since the start of the pandemic. Students on CSL placements greatly enhance capacity for non-profits and other social service organisations to do their work. However, with pandemic imposed restrictions, students will not have access to the same opportunities normally presented to them. 

How do we convert in-person placements to virtual placements or project-based CSL? This webinar will explore examples of project-based CSL by some of our very own faculty and CSL supports available on campus for faculty leading up to this Fall and beyond. 

This webinar is for all faculty, from folks who just want to learn more about CSL, to those who regularly incorporate CSL into their course. We look forward to working with you to offer students a wide range of opportunities to engage with community and gain valuable work experience during these times. 

Moderator: Christine Benoit, Community Service-Learning Officer
Panelists: Dr. Manuel Litalien, Dr. Denyse Lafrance Horning, Dr. Jonathan Pitt

Lunch and Learn webinar hosted by Biidaaban Community Service-Learning and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives

Contact us:

Makayla Nowee

Community Service-Learning Officer
Enji giigdoyang, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Nipissing University
(705) 474-3450 Ext. 4586

Carrie Demers

Student Placement Coordinator
Enji giigdoyang, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Nipissing University
(705) 474-3450 Ext. 4684

Biidaaban works in alignment with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, North Bay’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy, and the Office of Indigenous Initiative’s Strategic Plan to support local Indigenous community in meaningful ways.