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Scholarships and bursaries: how to find them.


With winter session over and spring and summer sessions either underway or soon to be, this is a good time for students and prospective students to start planning for September.

Finances are always a consideration, but there are a number of scholarships and bursaries offered specifically to Aboriginal students. These awards come from both the public and the private sector; however, new awards are being developed and other awards updated, so it is sometimes difficult for both individuals and institutions to keep abreast of all the possibilities.

There are, however, some logical sources of information on scholarships and bursaries. Many post-secondary institutions offer awards themselves. For instance, Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton has formed partnerships with various other organizations in order to offer special incentives. One new award offered through the Grant MacEwan College Foundation is the Aboriginal Business Leadership Award.

As Lori Hanasyk of Grant MacEwan says, the award is "business-driven". It came about because 10 or fifteen organizations, some of them large corporations, identified the need and put together the funding. It will offer a minimum of four awards [$1,500 each] annually, and the deadline for applications is June 15 for the following academic year.

This particular initiative is not only directed to a special area of study, one leading to a certificate, diploma or degree in business or commerce, but also targets three groups of applicants. First priority will be given to one or more selfemployed Aboriginal students who are attending an Alberta post-secondary institution for the first time. The next priority is for one or more mature students attending such an institution for the first time. The third priority opens up the award to one or more Aboriginal students registered in such a program and also at a public post-secondary educational institution in Alberta.

Another place for a student to go for information on education awards is his or her regional office of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. In Edmonton, the person fielding general inquiries about educational programs is Delbert Dahl. Regina Holehouse, communications officer for the same office, would also recommend the Native Counselling Centre.

The University of Alberta offers both the Native Student Services office and the Aboriginal Student Council as resources. There is also an excellent handbook which lists awards, and application forms for many of these scholarships are available at Native Student Services [Student Union Building.] Students in other parts of the country or at other institutions should make enquiries at equivalent student services organizations.

Aboriginal students should give special attention to the Northern Alberta Development Council bursaries, offered through the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund. Though the bursaries are not offered exclusively to Aboriginal students, the latter often have an advantage, having lived and worked in northern communities. Audrey DeWitt, of Peace River, development officer and contact person for the bursaries, suggests that information and applications are distributed to all Aboriginal communities, Metis settlements and Native cultural centres. Besides having experience living and working in the north, desirable candidates for the award have a clear idea of what they want to do, have contacted prospective employers and are near the conclusion of their university or college programs

There are other community resources, such as public libraries, which are storehouses of material on awards. One such resource is Winning Scholarships: a Students' Guide to Entrance Awards at Western Canadian Universities and Colleges (1994). There are two other volumes, one for Ontario universities and colleges (1992) and one for universities and colleges in Atlantic Canada and Quebec (1992). All are published by the University of Toronto Press. The books themselves are not user-friendly -- plan to sit down and work out the codes for the institutions which interest you. However, there are separate listings for scholarships for Native students, so time spent would probably be worthwhile.

Many university libraries and public libraries also have access to the Internet by way of the World Wide Web. This is a growing source of information on practically everything.

Besides the awards offered through government programs and educational institutions, there are a number of private sector scholarships, generally offered by certain industries to those students enrolled in (or planning to enroll in) related courses of study. Indian Affairs in Ottawa published a directory of private sector funding in 1994. Though there are a limited number of copies available, and some of the awards mentioned might no longer be available, it would still be worthwhile to check in at the regional office and ask to see it.

For most of these private sector awards, status Indians, non-status Indians, Inuit and Metis all qualify; however, some requirements are more specific. For instance, eligibility for the Native Scholarship Award of the Alberta Energy Company Ltd. not only depends on candidates being first accepted into a program related to the oil and gas industry at an accredited technical school, college or university, but also stipulates that candidates have "resided in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Blackfeet Reservation or Fort Berthold Reservation for the last year." For those who do qualify, however, it appears to be an excellent opportunity, since each year five $3,500 scholarships are presented.

Another private sector sponsor, the Royal Bank, has just awarded five scholarships of $1,000 per year (maximum of four years at university or two year college program) in disciplines "relevant to the banking industry." This scholarship, called the "Royal Bank Native Student Awards Program" has been active since 1992 and has awarded scholarships to 25 students. Royal Bank representatives suggest that the scholarship "provides an opportunity for the Royal Bank to strengthen its relationship with the Native community."

Xerox Canada's Aboriginal Scholarship Program is, predictably, for full-time students registered in approved Canadian institutions and pursuing academic programs "which could lead to careers in the information technology industry." This program is also generous. Four scholarships, each worth $3,000 per year, will be awarded. The deadline for applications is June 15. Study programs mentioned are computer/math sciences, business administration/commerce or engineering.

Since there are new scholarships and bursaries being offered every year, by levels of government and by the private sector, as well as by educational institutions themselves, Aboriginal students should follow up on all leads. Furthermore, if band/ community organizations do not have information and applications available, candidates should request that they be made available.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kydd, Allison
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:May 1, 1997
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