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Earlier this month, it was announced that the Alberta Government will supply each of Alberta’s five First Nations colleges with $100,000 in one-time funding for COVID-19 supports, for a total of $500,000.

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education, stated, “We listened to the concerns raised by leaders of First Nations colleges in Alberta and we are pleased that we can provide this one-time funding to address some of those immediate challenges. First Nations colleges are cornerstones of their communities and we need to ensure they can continue to provide valuable and effective learning opportunities for their students, despite these unprecedented times.”

The grant will address technology and Wi-Fi access, support online programming development and delivery, and assist with improved cleaning protocols to meet COVID-19 standards.

“Indigenous communities thrive when their youth come back with contemporary skills and a willingness to uphold the old ways, too. Knowing students will have the access they need to continue their education makes me optimistic for their future and their communities,” said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations.

There are five First Nations colleges in Alberta receiving the funds: Maskwacis Cultural College, Old Sun Community College, Red Crow Community College, University nuhelot’i?ne thaiyots’i? nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills and Yellowhead Tribal College.

Roy M. Weasel Fat, Namahkan, president, Red Crow Community College said, “Red Crow Community College is very appreciative of extra funding received from Alberta Advanced Education for COVID-19 preparedness initiatives for our college safety program.”

Rachel Hertz Cobb, chief administrative officer, Yellowhead Tribal College stated, “Like our fellow post-secondary institutions, we have been working to provide our students with a learning environment that’s safe and that also allows them to keep making progress toward their diplomas and degrees. This enhancement of the First Nations College Grant recognizes that PSE delivery under pandemic conditions asks extraordinary feats of small institutions like ours and goes a long way toward making it possible for us to meet our goals.”