A handful of Indigenous students at Okanagan College are going into Christmas knowing the financial burden of their schooling won’t be as great next semester.
Sixteen Okanagan College students received an Indigenous Student Award from the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society in December — granting awards between $1,000 and $2,500 to Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education. Local recipients include Enderby’s Tina William,
In addition, Coldstream’s Stefan Bigsby, studying at the University of B.C., is a recipient. Lake Country’s Brenda Hebert and Aaron Pete, also UBC students, are also recipients. Annamarie Windels, also a UBC student from Winfield, is a recipient. Lumby’s Jenna Mulholland, studying at Thompson Rivers University, has also been awarded a grant.
Vernon recipients are: Shannon-Rose Vickers – Simon Fraser University, Cody Isaac – UBC, Kara Ross – UBC and Yetko Bearshirt Robins – UBC.
Sophie Wilson, one of the recipients, is a bachelor of arts student at the Penticton campus who is transferring into the bachelor of business administration program in the new year, majoring in management.
“This award validates and recognizes all my hard work,” said Wilson. “It means I can support myself and my daughter while I continue to pursue my dreams at Okanagan College. One of the biggest things being a single mother is I always need something for my daughter, and I don’t ever want to worry about not having what she needs.”
Wilson said that jobs through school and other financial issues have distracted her from her studies in the past but this award will let her focus on what matters most.
The 16 Okanagan College students are among 612 Indigenous students in B.C. to receive more than $1.8 million in awards from the Society.
“Ike Barber, and the Society that lives on in his name, have had an immense impact on our students over the years, through awards such as these,” says OC President Jim Hamilton, who is also a former director of the society. “Support such as this not only inspires our students in their studies but hopefully also to contribute to their communities through their knowledge and skills.”
The Indigenous Student Awards program was created to assist in removing barriers to higher education for Indigenous peoples.
Wilson is one of more than 1,800 Indigenous students who attend Okanagan College.