The Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society has granted a total of $813,000 to a record 265 Aboriginal students in B.C. to support their studies at post-secondary colleges and universities throughout the province.
Two Campbell River students, Jesse Spooner (University of Victoria) and Rory Shade (University of British Columbia), are among the recipients.
The $813,000 represents a near doubling in the number and value of Aboriginal Awards granted by the society the previous year.
The Society’s Aboriginal Awards program is funded from the returns on a $12 million endowment fund established by the Province, and an additional $2M fund created in 2012 to encourage more Aboriginal students to become teachers, and $1M for Aboriginal students pursuing Masters and Doctoral studies. Awards of between $1,000 and $5,500 each are issued to students through a competitive process every year. The awards programs are intended to assist in removing barriers to higher education for the province’s Aboriginal peoples.
“Throughout our province, more Aboriginal students are succeeding in their post-secondary studies and taking advantage of the exciting job opportunities,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “Congratulations to these deserving students, and best of luck in your classes.”
In accepting his 2013 Aboriginal Student Award, Gage LeBlanc, who is studying Business Administration at Camosun College, offered the following comment about its impact.
“By granting me this award, the financial burden of post-secondary education has been extensively lightened,” he said. “This will allow me to put more time and effort into my studies…and I am inspired to help others to make the decision to enter a college or university program.”
“Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing demographic in our population and yet they are under-represented at our colleges and universities. Through these awards, the Irving K Barber Scholarship Society hopes to encourage more Aboriginal students to pursue post-secondary education to secure the skills and training they will need to reach their full potentials,” said Society Chair, Hugh Gordon.
The Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society provides scholarships to students attending public post-secondary institutions throughout the province and internationally. Since its inception, the Society has awarded over $5 million from its six scholarship and award programs.