Monday, 13 April 2020

Indigenous Student Funding

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels. Blog written by Milana Ward.

It is a false assumption that all Indigenous students (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) automatically receive educational funding for post-secondary studies through their bands or affiliates. 

For the purpose of this blog, I will provide general information about educational funding opportunities that may be available to eligible Indigenous students.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is the federal sponsoring body that provides financial assistance to Status Indians enrolled in eligible post-secondary programs.  However, the funding is administered through the First Nation local band office as they are responsible for determining the eligibility criteria and allocation of the funds for their community members.

A First Nations person may be a registered Status Indian, however, this does not mean that they automatically have band membership. Some bands determine their own membership so individuals may still have to apply and be approved for band membership before being eligible to receive band funding. If the person is on the band membership list, they can apply for educational funding through the Education Director in their First Nation community.  

Depending on funding availability, not all eligible band members who apply will receive funding as priorities may be given to returning students, high school graduates, and members who live on-reserve.  If approved, funding may cover tuition, living allowance, and other school and learning fees. For more information, please see Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

Non-Status Indians are individuals who are First Nations but are not registered and may not have band affiliation at all. Therefore, Non-Status students will not have funding opportunities as registered First Nation students do.

Urban Indigenous students residing in BC who do not qualify to apply through their local band offices can connect with their local service delivery centers to inquire about educational funding.  For example, local residents in the greater Victoria, BC area can connect with a Career Counsellor at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (Career Employment & Education Resources department) to be assessed for eligibility and start the application process months ahead of their intended start dates.

Métis students may be able to access some educational funding through the Metis Nation offices in their province or territory. Students in BC can apply through the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC) Employment and Training department. The Métis local office can help these students determine what funding dollars are available through these programs.

Inuit students may also have funding opportunities through their local beneficiary community organizations.

All First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban/non-affiliated Indigenous people
can be directed to   their local Indigenous Service Delivery Organization to inquiry about funding opportunities available.

All Indigenous students can also research and apply for Indigenous specific scholarships and bursaries.  A great tool can be found on the
Government of Canada website.

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