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Provincial scholarships benefit GPRC Indigenous students

They haven’t found out yet, $156,000 in scholarships will be handed out to 39 Indigenous students at Grande Prairie Regional College this year. It’s part of $7 million in financial awards the province announced last week. Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt says the cost of travelling to and attending post-secondary school can be a major barrier for Indigenous students.

“We know that Indigenous students are underrepresented in universities and colleges across the province, so we implemented this program to at least help take away one of the barriers that’s preventing Indigenous students from going to post-secondary education.”

Undergraduate students in high-demand fields like business, education and technical training can get up to $4,000, while graduate students can get up to $15,000.

11 per cent of Grande Prairie Regional College student self-identify as Indigenous, which is nearly three times the provincial average of four per cent. Financial aid coordinator Carla Dodd says they work to have a strong support network for Aboriginal students.

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“We have the only on-campus Friendship Centre in Canada; we have our Elder In Residence program, as well as our Circle of Aboriginal Students to ensure that our Indigenous students have a welcoming and supportive environment here on campus.”

Dodd adds that the Friendship Centre serves as a gathering area with coffee and couches to help make the transition from smaller, more remotes communities easier.

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