indigenous education fund

Education fund to support Indigenous students

Monday, June 28, 2021

An education fund for Indigenous students residing in British Columbia has been established by a group of consulting firms, engineers and architects. The goal is one of healing, encouraging and supporting Indigenous people pursuing post-secondary studies in engineering or architecture.

The first ḴEL,ḴELOŦEN ȻE S,ISTEW̱ award of $5,000 will be presented to one successful applicant this November for the 2021/2022 academic year.

“There are very few Indigenous professionals working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Many engineering and architecture firms work with Indigenous communities, but few have Indigenous professionals working within their organizations. Our partners recognize this and want to help Indigenous people pursue careers in our industry,” said Kear Porttris, committee chair and Métis engineering graduate.

The education fund stems from the group coming together to complete a proposal for a large federal project in the Sidney/Central Saanich area of British Columbia. As part of this project’s requirements, the team prepared a comprehensive plan to include the communities of W̱SÁNEĆ Nation and Malahat Nation. The development of the proposal sparked deeper conversations and commitments from the firms to move forward on instigating change—within these Indigenous communities and others like them—across the province.

Although the team was not awarded the project, they remained committed to creating an education fund, and have now aligned as founding partners to form a steering committee for the fund, which includes the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Gwaii Engineering, the AME Consulting Group, Diamond Schmitt architects, Number TEN Architectural Group, AES Engineering, and RJC Engineers. Together, they have established an endowment to launch ḴEL,ḴELOŦEN ȻE S,ISTEW̱.

The naming of the post-secondary education fund acknowledges the territories of Lekungen, W̱SÁNEĆ and Malahat Peoples.  The English translation is “a dream for what becomes of you.”

AME Consulting Group and Gwaii Engineering contributed the initial funding for the endowment, solidifying this initiative and bringing together a range of cross-country partners to support the fund’s inaugural launch. The fund’s other founding contributors include: Toronto and Vancouver-based architects, Diamond Schmitt, the Victoria offices of Number TEN Architectural Group, AES Engineering, and RJC Engineers.

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