The Irving K. Barber Centre on the UBC Okanagan campus. Photo credit: Contributed

The Irving K. Barber Centre on the UBC Okanagan campus. Photo credit: Contributed

North Okanagan indigenous student award winners

Scholarship program rewards 457 students across province

Brettany Makuch is a 28-year-old Metis student with her sights set on becoming a family nurse practitioner.

She’s moved closer to achieving that goal courtesy of a $5,000 Aboriginal Student Award she’s recently received from the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society.

Makuch is one of 457 people to receive more than $1.3 million in awards from the society that go to Indigenous students in British Columbian to support their studies at public post-secondary institutions throughout the province.

“Receiving an award from the society has been an incredible support to me and my financial situation,” said Makuch who is pursuing her studies at the University of Northern B.C., “and has facilitated my current success.”

Joining Makuch as award recipients were several students from the North Okanagan.

The Society’s Aboriginal Student Awards program is funded from the returns on an endowment fund established by the province.

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.

The Indigenous population in British Columbia is growing at more than triple the rate of the non-Indigenous population, with nearly 45 per cent under the age of 25.

“The society that bears the name of Irving K. Barber was formed in part to give students from Indigenous communities in British Columbia the same opportunities to grow and succeed as those in other communities,” said Rajiv Gandhi, chair.

“The society is honoured to be the steward of the funds used to create these tremendous possibilities.”

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 $15 million has been distributed to B.C. students from its six scholarship and award programs. The Victoria Foundation provides administrative support to the Society.

Among the North Okanagan award recipients were:


Todd Hoggarth, Simon Fraser University

Samantha Fuller, University of British Columbia


Jasmine Keller, University of British Columbia

Lake Country

Brett Jackson, College of New Caledonia

Laura Mercer, Okanagan College


Cara Major, University of British Columbia

Amanda Neufeld, University of British Columbia

Salmon Arm

Aaren Hajash, Okanagan College

Troy Thomas, Thompson Rivers University


Alicia Mitchell, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Bonita Noble, Okanagan College

Rae-Ann Lawrence,Okanagan College

Cody Isaac, University of British Columbia

Dexter James, University of British Columbia

Nicole Skidmore,University of British Columbia

Reece Schroeder, Okanagan College

Kara Ross, University of British Columbia

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