Media Release | Mar. 21, 2012

UBC offers new $20,000 scholarships for Aboriginal students

The University of British Columbia has launched two new major entrance scholarships to help attract and support outstanding Canadian Aboriginal high school students to UBC.

The $5,000 Aboriginal Major Entrance Scholarships – each renewable for up to three additional years for a total of $20,000 – will be awarded annually to Aboriginal students according to broad-based criteria, including academic excellence, leadership qualities and outstanding contributions to the community.

“These new awards will help more First Nations, Métis and Inuit students benefit from opportunities at UBC, where researchers, students and staff are engaged with issues of major importance to Aboriginal communities,” says Linc Kesler, director of UBC’s First Nations House of Learning.

Graeme Joseph, coordinator of UBC’s Strategic Aboriginal Initiatives, says financial hardships remain a major barrier to post-secondary education for Aboriginal youth. “It is critical that we remove these barriers to ensure students get the education that best meets their needs,” he says.

The new scholarships, which require a B+ average grade to renew, are part of UBC’s Aboriginal Strategic Plan, launched in 2009. The plan has expanded K-12 Aboriginal outreach programs, nearly doubled the university’s complement of Aboriginal faculty members and increased the number of staff to support Aboriginal students.

In addition to awards open to all UBC students, each year nearly $600,000 in bursaries, awards, and fellowships is directed at Aboriginal students on UBC’s Vancouver campus. Just over half of this funding targets Aboriginal graduate students.

This academic year, UBC’s Vancouver campus admitted 117 new Aboriginal undergraduate students – a 56 per cent increase from the previous year. More than 680 Vancouver-based UBC students currently self-identify as Aboriginal.

The new scholarships will available to Aboriginal Students who have applied for Major Entrance Scholarships in 2012, and all Aboriginal students beginning 2013. For more information on UBC’s Aboriginal student awards, visit: http://www.students.ubc.ca/finance/types-of-financial-support/scholarships-awards/awards-for-aboriginal-students.

For more on UBC’s Aboriginal Strategic Plan, the university-wide initiative that guides UBC’s engagement with Aboriginal peoples and communities, visit: http://aboriginal.ubc.ca/strategic-plan.

Backgrounder

UBC offers more than 70 courses focused on Aboriginal students and communities. These range from Canada’s oldest Aboriginal law program and Aboriginal residency programs, to B.C.’s longest-running Aboriginal teacher-education program and programs focused on the study and preservation of Aboriginal languages.

The First Nations Longhouse serves as a “home away from home,” where UBC students can study and learn in a surrounding that reflects Aboriginal traditions and cultures.

Since the late Frank Calder – the first Aboriginal person elected to any legislature in Canada (Nisga’a First Nation) – graduated in 1946, UBC has educated generations of Aboriginal leaders, including B.C.’s lieutenant-governor Stephen Point (Skowkale First Nation), Chief Kim Baird (Tsawwassen First Nation), retired judge and hereditary chief Alfred Scow (Kwicksutaineuk First Nation), Grand Chief Ed John (Tl’azt’en First Nation), the late Métis scholar and activist Howard Adams, and retired senator Leonard Marchand (Okanagan First Nation).

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Basil Waugh
UBC Public Affairs
604-822-2048
basil.waugh@ubc.ca

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A group of UBC Aboriginal students on graduation day, May 2011. Photo by Don Erhardt.

A group of UBC Aboriginal students on graduation day, May 2011. Photo by Don Erhardt.

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