Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Scott Fraser, visited NVIT last week to announce the new BC Access Grant which will provide funding to low- and middle-income students.

Fraser, who is the MLA of Mid Island-Pacific Rim, sang Merritt’s praises, telling those gathered how different and appealing the Interior is to someone from Vancouver Island. He went on to explain the benefits of the new Access Grant to students and post-secondary institutions

“It’s my privilege to talk to you about some exciting news, the very first new investment in post-secondary education in 15 years,” said Fraser.

“The new BC Access Grant will benefit nearly twice as many students compared to previous grant programs. Starting this fall more than 40,000 students will benefit from this grant. Unlike most previous grants the BC Access Grant will empower those who need it the most, low- and middle-income students. For the first time students in programs for less than two years will also be eligible, so that opens up the opportunities for so many more students in this province.”

Because of the new guidelines making students of less than two years eligible, the grant will also apply to certificate and diploma programs, as well as part time students.

“Students can receive up to $4000 per year to help with the cost of tuition, living expenses, or any education related costs,” Fraser explained.

“And the best part about this is it doesn’t come after the fact. Students will receive the grants when classes begin, so they’ll have the money in their pockets for textbooks, for lab supplies and other required items for their programs.”

Ken Tourand, President of NVIT spoke about the Access Grant and the Immediate Entry Bursary program NVIT recently launched province wide.

“Last week around this time I was standing in front of the special chief’s assembly of the BCAFN and NVIT announced an exciting immediate entry bursary where we’re going to provide free tuition for every indigenous student across the province,” said Tourand.

“And if you take that and you combine that with the student Access Grant, NVIT is all about accessibility and affordability, and we’re making a difference in the lives of indigenous students. So, we’re very, very excited and we appreciate the support of the provincial government, Minister Mark, Minister Fraser and we’re very excited about the announcement. I think it’s going to have a huge impact on our students.”

The announcement was concluded with a statement by Allen Casper, president of the student council.

My understanding is what this means is it’s giving students an opportunity to come to school and be in school,” said Casper.

“And coming on the heels of opening up that immediate entry bursary, that just goes hand in hand with what this is, and that gives students the opportunity to come to school and stay in school and use that funding to pursue their dreams and make BC a better place, make their communities a better place. So, I raise my hands to NVIT and to the Minister here, and I just

want to say good job. Hopefully we can continue to build on this because there’s a lot of work to be done but it’s an awesome first couple of steps here.”