McGill’s Indigenous students can now rely on dedicated financial support thanks to a new partnership with Indspire, an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of Indigenous peoples. Indspire will manage the awarding process through its Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards program to secure matching funds from the Government of Canada. This nearly doubles McGill’s $500,000 investment towards its prospective and enrolled Indigenous students over the next two years.
In its 2015 final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) called on all Canadian institutions to acknowledge and reduce barriers to education for Indigenous people. In response to this call, Provost Christopher Manfredi struck a Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Education. One of the concrete recommendations was that McGill provide a robust funding model for Indigenous students. This pledge stems from McGill’s recognition that access to education is a crucial step towards reconciliation.
Breaking down barriers
As a result, the Indigenous Student Financial Assistance Pilot was created with the aim of increasing recruitment and retention of Indigenous students, starting this Fall semester. Christopher Manfredi, McGill Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), emphasized that “if we want to break down the barriers that Indigenous People face in their access to education, we need to work on all aspects of their journey, and certainly funding is an important enabler for this journey.”
“With this investment in Indigenous education, McGill is taking a crucial step towards reconciliation,” said Roberta Jamieson, President & CEO of Indspire. “With this funding, we will be able to provide much needed support to Indigenous students, enabling them to reach their highest potential through post-secondary education.”
Two types of financial assistance will be made available via Indspire:
- McGill’s Indigenous First-Year Award, a one-time, $2,000 award given to undergraduate Indigenous students entering their first year.
- McGill’s Indigenous Bursary, an award ranging from $1,000- $10,000 based on financial need, available to Indigenous students pursuing a degree program.
Additionally, the University will manage in-house the Provost’s Indigenous Achievement Award, a $5000 renewable Admissions award given to Indigenous students with exceptional high school or CEGEP grades.
Fostering an equitable and inclusive campus
The University is committed to recruiting more indigenous students to study at McGill and breaking down the financial barriers they face in pursuing higher education. While recognizing that there is much work to be done, McGill’s response demonstrates its commitment to fostering an equitable and inclusive campus, with strong First Nations, Métis and Inuit representation within the students welcomed from across Canada and around the world.
Along with other members of Universities Canada (UC), McGill has committed to making Indigenous education a priority. As reconciliation efforts are a shared responsibility, many units across the University collaborated on making this project come alive. To this end, the Financial Assistance pilot project is only one of many initiatives to be rolled out in the near future.