Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag raised outside the Okanagan College Vernon campus on July 16 is a step toward completing the sacred hoop. (Karissa Gall photo)

Scholarships boost Vernon, Lake Country Indigenous students

Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society supports 663 students

Jeff Shemilt is an Indigenous student with his sights set on securing a master’s degree in public administration. He’s moved closer to achieving that goal courtesy of an Indigenous Award he’s recently received from the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society.

Shemilt is one of 663 students who will share more than $2.3 million in awards in support of their studies at public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.

“This award will cover a substantive portion of my program costs, allowing me to focus energy on maximizing my success within my academic program” said Shemilt. “As my personal and professional ambitions involve working toward the public interest, I am certain your contribution will also ultimately benefit those other than just myself.”

The Society’s Indigenous Awards program is funded from the returns on an endowment fund established by the Province of British Columbia. It was created to assist in removing barriers to higher education for Indigenous peoples. Awards of $1,000 to $5,000 each are issued every year through a competitive process to students studying at all post-secondary levels, from trades training to doctoral programs.

“Scholarships like this make a huge difference in the lives of Indigenous students,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By breaking down barriers to accessing post-secondary education, these awards support Indigenous youth to gain the knowledge and skills they need to start their careers and contribute to B.C.’s economy.”

The Indigenous population in British Columbia is growing at more than triple the rate of the non-Indigenous population, with approximately 42.5 per cent of the Indigenous population under the age of 25.

“The society is pleased to be able to remove some funding barriers to post-secondary education by providing awards that are both available at the beginning of a program and renewable for future years of study” said board chair Melvin Berg.

Among the local students earning awards are:

Undergraduate

Lake Country

• David Tearoe, Okanagan College;

• Courtney Kneale, UBC;

• Roan McCarthy, UBC;

• Nicole Skidmore, UBC;

• Kirsten Caley, UBC Okanagan;

• Sara MacMillan, UBC Okanagan;

Vernon

• Jennifer Parker, En’owkin Centre;

• Victor Jack, Okanagan College;

• Mneote Louis, UBC;

Teacher education

Vernon

• Kara Ross, UBC Okanagan;

Post graduate

Lake Country

• Sandra Hinter, UBC;

• Lake Country, Kristi Hotte Royal Roads University;

Vernon

• Liam King, UBC;

The Irving K Barber BC Scholarship Society provides scholarships and awards to students attending public post-secondary institutions throughout the province and internationally. Since its inception, nearly $29 million has been distributed to B.C. students from its six scholarship and award programs.

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