Surplus generates higher funding allocation

Student Awards collaborates with Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre to reach out for awards applicants

Laura Maracle of FDASC said that there is still a need for raising awareness about these bursaries and awards.
Laura Maracle of FDASC said that there is still a need for raising awareness about these bursaries and awards.

This year Queen’s has seen an increase in awards and bursaries for aboriginal students.

In 2010-11, Student Awards allocated $110,000 in awards and bursaries to aboriginal students at Queen’s. The increase in funding comes from previous awards and bursaries that were not given out to students due to a lack of knowledge about their availability. This represents a 97 per cent increase in allocated funds from 2009-10.

The offices of Student Awards and Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC) have collaborated this year to increase awareness of awards and bursaries available for aboriginal students.

“To date, this academic year 51 students have received funds from 20 aboriginal awards. Two new awards were created in 2010; The Aboriginal Admission Award and the Four Directions Aboriginal Admission Award,” Stuart Pinchin, Associate University Registrar told the Journal via email.

Of the 20 Aboriginal awards, 13 are specifically for aboriginal students, while 6 are geared towards favouring aboriginal student applicants. Only one award is specifically for Métis students. For a student to be eligible to apply for any of these awards they must have accessed “all available sources of funding” and must have qualified for at least $5,000 in government assistance.

Laura Maracle, an aboriginal advisor at FDASC, said that even with the increase of funding for awards and bursaries there is still a need to make these opportunities more accessible.

“Even if you are status and are band funded, bands are limited in funding, so you might be limited for that year, and if you don’t apply for OSAP or a student line of credit then you’re not eligible [for a General Bursary],” she said adding that a lot of students don’t apply because they think that they will go into debt.

“There are a lot of resources that are available, I come from another university and Queen’s does have a lot of support, but it’s only if you can meet their criteria of financial need,” said Maracle.

Donna Kimmaliardjuk, president of the Queen’s Native Students’ Association said she found out about the Queen’s University General Bursary when Student Awards sent out a personalized email to each student who had self-identified as aboriginal.

Kimmaliardjuk said that she was surprised at the lengthiness of the application, which may impose a barrier on some student’s likeliness to apply.

“Some students might not be able to contact their parents to get information about their income and finances for a lot of reasons. The other thing too was figuring out all my expenses,” she said. “It wasn't too difficult but it was lengthy.”

The expense budget must include information about government assistance, savings, support from relatives or friends, assets, government income, parents’ income, living expenses and more.

While increasing awareness of awards and bursaries may lift some barriers aboriginal students face, Kimmaliardjuk said financial constraints are not the only problems encountered.

“A huge barrier of getting aboriginal students to Queen's is that there's a very small aboriginal community here, of students, faculty and staff,” she said. “Aboriginal students want to go somewhere where they have a community and can see themselves reflected. This is especially important for traditional students and students coming from a remote area. Students need to feel like they belong and that is a huge barrier to retaining students to finish their degrees.”

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