BC announces $1.5 million in funding for Indigenous students amid COVID-19 pandemic

Following yesterday's announcement of $3.5 million in funding to support post-secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC government has announced an additional $1.5 million in funding to supplement the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund to support Indigenous post-secondary students.

“We’re increasing emergency #FinancialAssistance for Indigenous students to ensure they can focus on staying healthy & meeting their educational goals,” tweeted BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark.

“No one should have to choose between an education and survival, and these emergency funds will help Indigenous students complete their studies with a better sense of well-being,” said BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser in a government press release.

The Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund is available to Indigenous students who have experienced unexpected financial hardships that may affect the continuation of their studies. According to the BC government, over 3,700 Indigenous students have accessed the fund since 2017.

Students attending any one of BC’s 25 public post-secondary schools as well as the Native Education College are able to access the funding. At UBC, students can access the fund through the First Nations House of Learning on the Vancouver campus or the Aboriginal Programs & Services on the Okanagan campus. Additionally, Enrolment Service (ES) Advisors on the Vancouver campus have emergency funding for students facing financial difficulties on a case by case basis, with no formal application required.

The provincial government funding is non-repayable and can be used to pay for costs associated with living expenses, groceries, childcare, cell phone bills as well as medical and travel costs. Students are encouraged to connect with their ES Advisor to find out more about accessing the funding.

In addition to the supports available through Enrolment Services, the Indigenous Committee at UBC Vancouver has set up an emergency fund to assist students who are facing financial difficulties on a case by case basis.

According to the province, the funding will also support the implementation of Articles 21.1 and 21.2 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as Article 23 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

“By supporting Indigenous students to succeed, we are doing our part to implement article 23 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,” added Mark.

This article has been updated to clarify that students at UBC Vancouver can contact their Enrolment Services Advisor for more information about accessing the funding.