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Financial assistance program supports Aboriginal students

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“These funds will help students pay for unexpected expenses, or help them to travel home in the event of a family emergency,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “It provides financial support to help students get through difficulties so that they can continue with their studies.”


The provincial government is providing the funding to the Aboriginal Emergency Assistance Fund as part of an ongoing commitment to improve post-secondary opportunities and outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.


“These funds will help young people overcome unforeseen financial barriers so they may continue pursuing their dreams,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad. “As B.C.’s Aboriginal population is the youngest and the fastest-growing in the province, ensuring they have the access they need to post-secondary education and training is crucial to helping them meet their full potential, and key to meeting current and future labour market demands.”


The Aboriginal Emergency Assistance Fund was launched in 2012 after results from the LE,NONET research project at the University of Victoria showed that having access to emergency relief funds was essential to the success of many Aboriginal learners, allowing them to complete their studies.


“Over the past three years, students have let us know the Emergency Assistance Fund has played a crucial role in helping them continue on with their education during very difficult times,” said Ruth Young, director of the Office of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Victoria. “From unforeseen medical expenses to family emergencies that require travel home, this fund has helped to reduce some of the stresses Indigenous students may face throughout their studies.”


“In a week’s time, I will have completed my seven-week program and have had no other financial support,” said an ironworker apprentice student at the B.C. Institute of Technology. “Your support has made the world of difference in my success in this program and I could not thank you enough.”


Government has provided a total of $4.3 million since 2012 to help more than 2,200 Aboriginal students cope with urgent financial needs, such as paying for travel home to attend a funeral, or other unforeseen expenses. Establishing the fund was one of the actions in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan that was launched in 2012.


Short-term financial assistance funds of up to $700 a year are accessible through Aboriginal student support offices at all 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C.