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Post-secondary educational choices for Aboriginal Youth in BC

Financing Post-Graduate Education

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Aboriginal people in British Columbia are offered programs and courses with different focuses, length of study, and admission requirements. Higher educational institutions such as the University of Northern British Columbia, University of Victoria, and University of British Columbia feature undergraduate and graduate studies with a focus on indigenous culture, health, contemporary issues.

Undergraduate Programs

The University of Northern British Columbia features a program in First Nations Studies, offering students the opportunity to learn more about aboriginal activism, arts, wisdom, culture, and history. Students take courses such as Tourism Management, Environmental Studies, First Nations Language, Metis Studies, Introduction to Linguistics. Courses help deepen knowledge across a host of topics, including decolonization, community development, social services, land rights, and a lot more.

The University of Victoria also offers certificate, diploma, and degree programs with a focus on Indigenous fine arts, languages, and culture. The program in Education, Aboriginal Language, and Culture is offered on a full- and part-time basis. Students are offered a wealth of different courses such as Drama Education, Linguistic Field Methods, First Nations Language, Language Revitalization. Seminars and practicums are also available.

The Aboriginal Studies Program at the Langara College is also an option for indigenous youth and helps them develop communication skills, critical thinking, analytical skills, and problem solving skills. Courses focus on community development, self-governance, and the present and historic circumstances of indigenous people. Graduates can choose from different career paths in fields and sectors such as healthcare, community development, politics, law, and social work. The University of British Columbia offers a program in First Nations and Indigenous Studies with a focus on economic development, constitutional recognition, politics, history, and tradition. Students learn about indigenous arts and literature, oral history, indigenous movements, community organizations, and more. Graduates can choose from a wealth of career paths, including environmental assessment officer, community support worker, public policy analyst, community services analyst, and employment equity officer.

Graduate Programs

The University of Victoria and University of Northern British Columbia offer graduate programs with an indigenous focus. The University of Victoria, for example, features Master’s programs in areas such as social welfare and health, leadership and governance, and language and culture. Students who pursue a degree in Indigenous Governance learn more about Aboriginal people and self-determination, women and resistance, governance, and a lot more. The University of Northern British Columbia also offers an MA program in First Nations Studies to help students learn about contemporary issues, beliefs, values, traditions, and identities. Students who successfully complete the program can work across different settings and fields, including politics, natural resources, social services.

Financing Post-Graduate Education

University tuition fees can be a major obstacle to getting a good start in life. Fortunately, there are different ways to finance postgraduate studies, including general and early entrance awards offered by universities, the Irving K. Barber Award for Aboriginal Students, Aboriginal Bursary Award, Anthany Dawson Justice Award. Some awards are offered to students enrolled in certain universities while others are available to students across colleges and universities. The Awards for Aboriginal Women, for example, are available to students at the College of the Rockies, Thompson Rivers University, Simon Fraser University, North Island College. In addition to scholarships and bursaries, funding is also available in the form of student government loans and loans available through credit unions and banks. Government-backed loans help students who demonstrate financial need to pay room and board, tuition, and other expenses: https://www.creditavenue.ca/is-being-debt-free-possible/. A minimum course load of 60 percent is required to qualify for applicants who are full-time students. Student lines of credit are also offered by Canadian banks such as the Royal Bank of Canada and TD Bank. Lines of credit come with flexible repayment options, interest-only payments before graduation, and affordable interest rates. Student credit cards are also available to pay day-to-day and emergency expenses: https://www.creditavenue.ca/canadas-top-ten-secured-credit-cards/

Aboriginal Careers in British Columbia

More and more employers in British Columbia are looking to hire members of visible minorities such as Aboriginal people, persons with permanent disabilities, Chinese, South Asian.

Education and Training

The Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections at Camson College offers indigenous courses and programs and support services. Students can choose from diploma and certificate programs such as Indigenous Business Leadership, Health Care Assistant, Archeological Field Assistant. Students take classes in different fields, including Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice and prepare to work for organizations and local communities. The Vancouver Island Institute also welcomes aboriginal students and actively works to improve retention and access to education. The First Nations Stewardship Technicians Training Program targets employed persons who require additional skills and underemployed and unemployed Aboriginal people. The program focuses on protected area management, monitoring environmental compliance, in-water construction, erosion control, and site planning. Graduates find employment as environmental monitors, fisheries technicians, coastal guardian watchmen, etc.

A number of societies, programs, and councils offer services and training to help aboriginal people find employment. The Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society - http://www.accessfutures.com/, for example, offers programs such as introduction to bookkeeping, welding, and pipefitting that are funded by the Federal Skills and Partnership Fund and Service Canada. Funds and societies help aboriginals set career goals, find and use market and labor information, and find employment.

Programs

The Aboriginal Student Employment Program targets students who seek to improve their job skills. They find employment in different fields, including programs and policy, administration, regulation, science, and nursing.

Employment Opportunities

Employers in British Columbia usually seek to hire Aboriginal and Indigenous candidates who can show proof of educational qualifications and credentials. The list of positions open to minority members includes screening officer, aboriginal support worker, associate admissions advisor, Indigenous initiatives associate director, and others. Jobs are available in different sectors, including automotive, natural resources and agriculture, trades and construction, and food services. Other sectors that offer employment opportunities to First Nations people are the tourism and hotel industry, oil and gas, mining, and social services.

Government of Canada and Job Offerings

Different positions are offered by the Government of Canada as well, including program officer, evaluator, building system specialist, senior program officer, and human resources advisor. Persons who apply to work as human resources advisors, for example, should have experience in applying and interpreting policies, regulations, and legislation. Those who apply to work as program officers should have experience in making recommendations, offering advice, and working with and maintaining partnerships with external and internal parties. Evaluators working for the government should have experience in areas such as industrial products, pesticides, cosmetics, tobacco, veterinary drugs, pharmaceutical products and substance exposure and hazard risk assessment. Aboriginal people in British Columbia are also offered employment as regional regulatory compliance and enforcement officers. Candidates should have experience in areas such as auditing, quality control, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and production. Experience with ISO 14971 and SO 13485 standards and digital health technologies are also required. Other positions available include HR advisor, policy analyst, epidemiologist, and bio-statistician. Salaries vary by position and experience. Program officers get between $67,200 and $72,000 while regional regulatory compliance and enforcement officers receive between $78,170 and $95,200.

Aboriginal Youth in BC

Financing Post-Graduate Education

Learn more