Finishing off the BC Cabinet-First Nations Leaders Gathering in Vancouver last week, Premier Christy Clark made the announcement that $2 million in awards would be granted to Aboriginal students pursuing masters and doctoral level degrees at BC’s public universities.
“Aboriginal people are a vital part of British Columbia’s future and contribute to our diverse, growing and strong economy,” said Premier Clark.
The awards will be up to $5,000 per year per student. They are granted through the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society, which works with the Victoria Foundation to provide scholarships and awards to BC students throughout the province and internationally.
To date, the society has awarded more than $8.9 million from five separate scholarship and award programs, including more than $3 million to Aboriginal students.
Rheanna Robinson, Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Relations at UNBC, says this announcement will benefit Aboriginal students pursuing masters or doctoral programs here in the north.
“Statistics show a gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students at a graduate degree level. Anything we can do to close that gap is welcome news,” she said.
That gap is shown in a 2011 Statistics Canada national household survey, which indicated that 1.46% of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 years received a masters degree – compared with 5.1% among the non-indigenous population.
Currently, UNBC offers a variety of graduate programs, with Health Sciences being one of their newest additions.