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VIU Joins National Partnership to Encourage Aboriginal Participation in Canada Learning Bond

by ahnationtalk on June 3, 2015567 Views

June 1, 2015

Millions of dollars in federal funding for post-secondary education are currently going unclaimed by Aboriginal families, but a new partnership announced today aims to change that. Vancouver Island University (VIU) is partnering with several non-profit organizations, academic institutions, private and community foundations and financial institutions to encourage participation in the Canada Learning Bond among Aboriginal people in Canada.

“The Canada Learning Bond remains largely untapped,” said Stephen Huddart, president of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, which is one of the initiative’s partners. “A rough estimate suggests that as many as 200,000 Aboriginal children are eligible for the Canada Learning Bond and that this number is likely to grow as Indigenous populations increase.”

The partnership was announced at the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, held in Ottawa as part of ongoing efforts to make reconciliation a reality in Canada.

The Bond is offered by the Government of Canada and gives low-income families an opportunity to start saving for their children’s post-secondary education through a Registered Education Savings Plan. It consists of a $500 initial contribution, with an additional $100 per year until the child turns 15 to a maximum of $2,000 per child. The fund can be supplemented by other provincial and national education grants.

“At VIU we have a long history of supporting Aboriginal learners and one of the highest per capita Aboriginal student populations in Canada,” said Dr. Ralph Nilson, President and Vice-Chancellor. “This important national partnership will further support our efforts in promoting the Canada Learning Bond, and encouraging Aboriginal learners to access post-secondary education and the opportunities it creates.”

Studies have shown that when it comes to low income students, only 45 per cent of high school students (with no post-secondary savings) enroll in post-secondary and only 7 per cent graduate. By contrast, 72 per cent of high school students with even some post-secondary savings enroll in college and 33 per cent graduate, suggesting that savings themselves act as an incentive for attending and finishing post-secondary.

The partnership consists of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, National Association of Friendship Centres, Winnipeg Boldness Project, Inspirit Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, Vancouver Island University and SmartSAVER, a national program operated in partnership with BMO, Meridian, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and Vancity to facilitate Canada Learning Bond enrollment.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: shari.bishopbowes@viu.ca

NT5

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