Post-secondary Education News for BC First Nations communities and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association members.

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Image: Christina Gray at her call to the bar ceremony in Toronto

Student Profile: Christina Gray

In 2015, Christina Gray brought Tsimshian culture to the national stage when she successfully petitioned to wear her regalia to her call to the bar ceremony in Toronto, Ontario.  Normally, law students must wear barristers’ robes, and some have been given permission to wear additional items of cultural significance. Christina wore a button blanket made by her family and a cedar woven hat; the orca design was created by Phil Gray, and the hat was gifted by Robin Gray.  Her story was covered nationally.
Christina’s petition to the Law Society of Upper Canada to wear her regalia was supported by her community, Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, and the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, where she had completed her articling.  She graduated from University of British Columbia Law with a specialization in Indigenous Legal Studies.
Thank you to Lisa Green, Post-Secondary Coordinator of Lax Kw'alaams First Nation for recommending Christina to be profiled in the newsletter. 

If you have students who we can profile, please submit their names to  We would also be interested in hearing about any PSE best practices that you would like to share with the community.

IAHLA Annual General Meeting, May 18, 2016

The Indigenous and Adult Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) will be hosting its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and panel discussion in Vancouver, on May 18, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. 
The theme for this year’s panel is “Envisioning the Future of IAHLA” and the discussion will focus on IAHLA challenges and the role of Aboriginal controlled institutes.  This year has been another particularly difficult one for IAHLA given the INAC funding cuts and so IAHLA will be bringing together guests and members to discuss partnerships, the strengths, challenges and opportunities moving forward.  Please note the following:
  • Each IAHLA member institute in good standing has one authorized representative, and that person can vote at the AGM. If the authorized representative cannot attend, they can appoint a proxy.
  • One representative per IAHLA member institute can apply for a travel/hotel reimbursement to attend the AGM and afternoon panel and discussion sessions.
  • For membership enquiries, contact Sherrie Jacobs at

PSE Coordinators Workshops

FNESC’s 5 Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Coordinator Workshops between January and March 2016 were well attended by 124 Coordinators, an increase of 20% over last year.  We received some great feedback from the workshops and this helps inform our advocacy, resources that we develop to support PSE Coordinators, and the delivery of future workshops.  Thank you to all the participants for their enthusiasm and sharing of best practices. 

The success of these workshops is a testament to the time and commitment that you all give to support post-secondary education for your communities.

Deadlines for PSE Funding & Reporting

May 30, 2016:  2016-17 PSE Funding Application due
August 30, 2016:  2015-16 Post-Secondary Student Registry due
In April 2016, First Nations communities that receive funding on a yearly basis from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) were sent call letters regarding the 2016-17 PSE Application process.  The application process allows Bands to demonstrate their funding requirements based on the estimated needs of eligible students.  Education coordinators will need to consult with their Finance / Band Manager for some of the data that has been requested.  

Briefly, changes are as follows:


Identification of any surplus for both 2014-15 and 2015-16.  INAC will pre-populate the first three fields under Part B, specifically fields for 2014/15 PSE Carry forward, 2015/16 PSE Final Allocation and 2015/16 Total PSE Budget.  You will be required to provide 2015/16 PSE Actual Expenditure as per your 2015/16 financial general ledger.

Removal of the category “waitlisted” under Application Status.  Any student who has been accepted to a Post-Secondary Institution (PSI) and are currently on the waiting list are eligible to be listed on the form.  Record both accepted and wait-listed as “A”

Addition of a new column with a question that must be answered for each program - “Is completion of Secondary School studies required by the institution for this Program? Y/N”

Completion of Secondary School studies – An eligible program is one which requires the completion or the equivalent* of secondary school as recognized by the PSI.  Note that this refers to program eligibility and not the student’s eligibility.  A program is coded as Y if secondary school studies or the equivalent is required.  A student’s eligibility to take the program is determined by the PSI.  For example, the PSI can admit a student who may not have completed Grade 12 but who they feel is eligible to be admitted.  This can include ‘mature students’.  This decision is made on an individual basis by the PSI.

Signatures for PSE Funding Application

Please note that similar to last year, the 2016-17 PSE funding application requires signatures from Education Coordinators and Finance or Band Managers.  Signatures are requested to indicate that the application is in compliance with the PSE National Program Guidelines.
In order to streamline the process, it may be appropriate to provide Finance/and or Band Managers with all information they may need prior to requesting their signature. 
Relevant documents would include:
  • The 2016-17 PSE Guidelines
  • Forms #1 and #2 and the Definitions
  • The call letter which includes Q & A about the application process; and
  • Any other documents you and/or they may feel necessary to assist with the approval process
Finance and/or Band Managers may have questions about costs or other details in the application and may have concerns – especially if they feel the information listed implies funding decisions have already been made.  It is important to remember that the process is simply a request for additional funding based on need.  Final decisions may not have been made and notification of the final allocation should be provided in August 2016.

Need Assistance With Your PSE Application Process?

Email for your community’s electronic copy of the forms which will have some pre-populated data.  A blank copy of the forms, with the formulas intact, are available on the PSE Coordinator Resource Page along with a copy of the call letter with instructions.  Please note that there are Excel formulas in the electronic version of the forms, which do some, but not all, of the math for you.  There are two formulas on Form #1 and one formula on Form #2. 

If, after reading the instructions, you still have questions about the PSE application process, or if you have mistakenly deleted the excel formulas while filling in the forms, feel free to call or email to ask for help at 1-877-280-4151 or

Education Funding:
National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund

The process for individuals to apply for funding for educational purposes from the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) Trust Fund was released on April 27, 2016. 

In accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, funds remaining from the common experience payments and personal credits have been transferred to the NIB Trust Fund. This funding is now being distributed to support educational programs. The NIB states that preference is given to former students of residential schools, but that all First Nations and Métis individuals over the age of 18 with a valid social insurance number are eligible.

Individuals can apply for up to $20,000 for post-secondary education, training and certification, and cultural, traditional and language knowledge building in addition to programs aimed at healing and reconciliation. 

The deadline for applications is June 24, 2016.

Further information can be found on the NIB Trust Fund website at


Staff Updates & Contacts

We are pleased to announce that Sham Pendleton has recently joined FNESC as Manager of Post-Secondary Education and Training.  Sham has extensive experience in post-secondary education working for the University of British Columbia.  During her time at UBC, Sham provided evidence-based research and analysis to support policy development and was involved in strategic planning, enrolment management and resource planning.   She also has significant experience with systems development.  Sham is excited to be joining FNESC and can be reached at
Cindy Charleyboy is our Post-Secondary Program Analyst and provides research and primary support to PSE coordinators by responding to questions and emails related to post-secondary programs and funding.  Cindy has been with FNESC for two years and has worked directly with First Nations Post-Secondary Students and First Nations organizations since 2001, primarily as an education coordinator with the Soda Creek Indian Band.  Cindy can be reached at
Sherrie Jacobs is our Senior Administrative Assistant and provides support for Post-Secondary Education, IAHLA and First Nations Languages.  Sherrie has been with FNESC for six years and prior to that was with School District 44.  Sherrie is from the Squamish Nation and says her greatest achievement is being a mother of two and a very proud grandmother.  Sherrie can be reached at


The following resources are available to you all through the year:

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Contact us toll-free: 1-877-422-3672
First Nations Post-Secondary Education News is a publication of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association and the First Nations Education Steering Committee. 

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