Indspire programs help Indigenous students achieve their right to an education.
Like feathers, every student’s journey is unique. The early years are guided by teachers, with everyone in the same classroom and learning the same curriculum, but this is also where individuality blooms. Each child has a different experience and level of aptitude they bring to that first classroom setting. Over the elementary school years, new topics are explored, friendships change, and outside interests are brought into the equation, even as family values stay at the core of the student’s influences.
The student’s voice and what they stand for are coalescing as they begin high school; they start to embrace individual causes and explore how they want to navigate the world outside of them. For the Indigenous student, beliefs, home life and influence from Elders play key roles in how the student looks toward the future.
High school represents critical years for self-realization and vocation discernment. As students head toward high school graduation and post-secondary education, many student journeys become even more individualized as hopes and fears begin to be realized. What do I want to be? How do I know what I want to be – and are my grades good enough? Did I get accepted into my program? Do I have to move? I’ve never been on my own before… And often, above all else: how am I going to pay for this?
The right to education should never be hindered because of lack of funding. Every child has the right to learn and contribute to their community and the world around them. For the Indigenous student, some of the financial barriers can be eased with bursaries and scholarships, but these are not always easily or universally accessible. Lack of knowledge of how to access this financial assistance is an unnecessary pressure for any student starting the next chapter of this critically important journey.
Along with the right to education, the Indigenous student should have the right to maintain their identity. They should never have to hide or lose their heritage and culture to assimilate while pursuing post-secondary studies. Unfortunately, this is often the reality that students encounter as they try to navigate the colonial education system. Exploring new beliefs, social activities, causes, truths and even foods may be first-time experiences for students from remote communities. The pressure to change weights heavily on Indigenous students once they arrive on campus.
As a national Indigenous organization, Indspire is familiar with all these factors – and has programs in place that are specifically designed to relieve some of these pressures that Indigenous students face. Their Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships, and Awards (BBF) program (www.indspire.ca/apply) is accessible to all, including Elders, teachers and students, with multiple types of scholarships and bursaries available to Indigenous students. The application is available online or can be printed manually, with three key submission dates throughout the year: August 1, November 1 and February 1.
Additionally, Rivers to Success (R2S), Indspire’s free Indigenous Mentorship program, provides valuable connections, mentoring from Indigenous advisors through an online Portal, cultural resources, and engaging events to ALL Indigenous students going through the various phases of their education to vocation journey. Students do not have to be a recipient of a Building Brighter Futures financial award to sign up for Rivers to Success.
Every student has the right to be successful on their own unique path to success – whatever that may look like to them, and Inspire wants to be a part of their journey. Visit www.indspire.ca to learn more, and find out how you can be a part of it too!