How does society begin to address the under-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the workplace? Or the lack of Indigenous role models at the highest levels of decision-making? And the employment and wage gap many Indigenous people experience?
One step is to ensure access to post-secondary education and the tools to succeed once there. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation, a private U.S.-based philanthropic foundation, partnered with Ryerson’s Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, and Aboriginal Student Services to create a $300,000 matching grant over three years to enhance scholarships and programs for the university’s Indigenous students. The grant and all money raised will fund an Indigenous Student Excellence program.
The Indigenous Student Excellence program builds on the work of Aboriginal Student Services, integrating mentoring, career counselling, cultural learning and social belonging to enhance academic success.
“Given it is a multi-year agreement, the program provides true benefits to support Indigenous success and graduation retention,” says Samantha Mandamin, Aboriginal academic support advisor with Aboriginal Student Services. “It also supports our team’s holistic approach to supporting all Indigenous students, especially those who struggle to find their way in an environment very different from their home communities.”
Employment and Social Development Canada research shows Indigenous Peoples are less likely to finish high school or post-secondary studies than the non-Indigenous population in Canada. When Inuit, Métis and First Nations people complete a post-secondary degree, their employment rate increases to 80 per cent. This is 19 per cent higher than Indigenous people who don’t have a degree.
“Ryerson’s project for the Indigenous Student Excellence program aligns with our goals of supporting education for Indigenous Peoples as a long-term investment in Indigenous communities,” said Robert Krause, CEO of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation.
Ryerson University is raising scholarship funds to support post-secondary education of Indigenous students. Readers who would like to support these initiatives can find out more at Giving to Ryerson.