Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Ida Chong was on hand at LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School in Brentwood Bay last Friday to announce the roll out of a $2 million fund to support First Nations students in crisis.
The $2 million Aboriginal Emergency Assistance Fund is part of the provincial government’s commitment to improve post-secondary opportunities and outcomes for First Nations students.
“Our government is committed to improving the quality of life and educational experience of Aboriginal students,” said Chong. “Ensuring they have access to emergency assistance funds in the event of a crisis is one example of how this government is finding ways to encourage Aboriginal students to start, stay in and succeed in higher learning.”
Also present was Janice Simcoe, chair of Aboriginal Education and Community Connections at Camosun College.
“The Aboriginal Assistance program is having a profound effect on Aboriginal students at Camosun. The program has enabled us to provide small but crucial supports as well as major assistance (to students),” Simcoe said, noting that the school has already assisted over 20 students in need who would have otherwise most likely left post-secondary education.
During the same press conference, it was also announced that the University of Victoria will receive $200,000 in one-time funding to continue programs supporting First Nations students’ success in post-secondary studies.
Originally a four-year national research project by UVic and the federal government, the program called LE,NONET was created to identify and evaluate program models for supporting First Nations students post-secondary studies through to graduation.
“We want Aboriginal people to find success in their chosen careers and secure good jobs so they can take care of their families and support their communities,” said Chong. “This funding is helping post-secondary programs and research to continue so we can help lay the foundation for that success.”
UVic currently has over 900 First Nations students enrolled in various faculties and 35 First Nations students in a graduate program that specializes in the revitalization of First Nations languages.