Often, Indigenous Canadians are not interested in continuing their education after high school; and for those who are interested, they have almost always found it difficult to find resources or the financial support that they need to do so. Since this has been the case for many years, Canadian universities have now begun to make efforts to provide resources for Indigenous students and offer more opportunities for financial aid.
A First Nations student in Alberta shared about his experience online recently. He spoke about the ridicule he faced when he told his friends and family about wanting to go to a post-secondary school. He knew he was going to face a lot of obstacles but he was determined to find a way. What he discovered is that there are hundreds of opportunities to get “free money” through bursaries and scholarships. There are also many scholarships available, specifically for Indigenous Students who are wanting to continue their education after high school.
We are starting to see a shift in the university communities within Canada. There is now more emphasis on the inclusion and support of Indigenous Students in post-secondary schools. The man that shared his experiences online, spoke about how when he was in university, it never occurred to him that there would be specific support services for students like him. However, he was pleasantly surprised when he found an Aboriginal Education Centre on his campus. These type of supports and services are very important for students to maintain connection with their Indigenous identity and to foster a sense of belonging. These supports make significant contribution to students’ success in university.
Trent University, especially, is leading the way by providing unique opportunities for Indigenous Students to become teachers through the new Indigenous Bachelor of Education program. Different self-identified Indigenous Students from around the world will be given opportunities to become Indigenous-specific Teachers. Trent also makes a point to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into many of their programs, particularly the teacher education programs, to ensure inclusivity and awareness for all students.
Universities should continue on this path of being more aware of Indigenous Students who are making their way through university and providing resources for them while they are there. Universities can also help these students by informing them of the vast amount of opportunities available to fund their education.