Indigenous post-secondary students experiencing financial pressures will benefit from additional provincial emergency funding.
Government is providing an additional $1.5 million to supplement the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund, which assists Indigenous students who are experiencing an unexpected financial emergency that may affect their ability to finish their studies. Support is available through all 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., as well as Native Education College (NEC).
“Our government is increasing emergency financial assistance for Indigenous students to ensure they have the necessary funds to focus on staying heathy, meeting their educational goals and finishing their semester,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “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.”
In addition to emergency living expenses like groceries, cell phone bills and childcare, the fund supports Indigenous learners through other unanticipated expenses like medical, dental and optical costs, and travel costs for family crisis or community obligations.
“These additional emergency funds to support B.C.’s Indigenous students are vital right now,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “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.”
Students who access the emergency funding do not have to repay it. Indigenous students can contact the Indigenous Student Service Centre on campus, which will help with the application process to receive the financial assistance.
Since 2017, $1.1 million has been provided to the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund with more than 3,700 Indigenous students accessing the fund in that time frame. The funding supports the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 21.1 and 21.2, and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 23.i.
- The Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund was launched in 2012 after research showed that having access to emergency relief funds was indispensable to the success of many Indigenous learners, allowing them to complete their studies.
- The federal government has also announced $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities across Canada.
A backgrounder follows.