Eight Okanagan College aboriginal students are among 265 in the province who have been selected as recipients of the B.C. Aboriginal Student Awards.
This is an annual award funded through the the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society.
Among the recipients is Jessica Hamilton, of Vernon.
“Financing education is a huge concern for our Aboriginal students,” said James Coble, Okanagan College’s aboriginal access and services co-ordinator.
“The reality is that not all of them are able to access needed funds through their bands. And even when bands do provide funding, the money doesn’t cover everything. Adequate funding is a critical component of student success.”
Coble added that many students also need help with transportation, child care, food and rent.
The benefits of post-secondary education for First Nations people were recently confirmed by a Statistics Canada survey that reported off-reserve First Nations school completers are significantly more likely to be employed than non-completers (72 per cent versus 47 per cent), with a median employment income range that is $10,000 higher.
According to the survey, 65 per cent of First Nations people plan to further their education; however, they face multiple obstacles to achieving their goals, including financial concerns, lack of confidence, and childcare and family responsibilities.