Solidarity Through Scholarship Award for Black Students in Native Studies

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I’ve been talking a lot lately about supporting Indigenous Studies, and how we can take concrete steps like donations and endowments for students. There has been an explosion of interest as a result, and folks are very busy setting things up!

I have a couple of personal goals I’d like to meet in terms of coming up with funding for students who come into the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta (where I’m currently studying). Foremost, I want to support Indigenous people who come here, many of whom are still first generation University students. The myth of “free schooling” still has a lot of folks convinced Indigenous students get a free ride in University, which is so far from the truth, it’s laughable. Except you laugh until you cry because it’s actually pretty awful how financially unsupported many students are.

I also want to specifically support students with children, because I did my law degree as a single parent with two small children, and I see a lot of folks struggling to raise their kids and get an education. I haven’t started working on this yet, but it’s going to happen.

Another goal I have is to encourage Black students to come to Native Studies. I think a lot of folks have the idea that Native Studies is only for Indigenous students. The fact is, we have many non-Indigenous students, the majority of whom are white. Increasing the number of Black and students of colour in Native Studies would go a long way to building solidarity between BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour), and frankly, diversity in any faculty should be a given.

An award specifically for Black students would go a long way to making it clear that not only are Black students welcome in Native Studies, they are encouraged to be here, they should be here, and we’re going to put money where our mouths are. To be clear, because this came up on twitter, Black Indigenous students will of course be eligible for this money, and for any money earmarked for Indigenous students.

There are a couple of ways to go about putting money together to make this happen. One, a wealthy patron could just donate $25,000 in one swoop and there we go! A guaranteed $700 award every year, in perpetuity. Topping that endowment up would be something we could work on so that the amount of the award increases over time.

Barring this, we also have the option to fundraise an endowment over 5 years by raising $5000 a year. However, I’d like some funding to be in place by September, so I’m going to go with a hybrid model: we raise $6000! Five thousand dollars would go into the endowment pot, and the other $1000 would be a one-time award that could be paid out in fall semester of this year.

This way we get the award going sooner rather than later while building towards an award that will continue supporting Black students in Native Studies into the far future!

Awesome, let’s do this, how can I help?

I considered using a crowdfunding site, but even the cheapest platform charges a 5% processing fee, and I want absolutely ever cent possible to go towards students. So I am going to collect some of the funds personally via PayPal. I will not be accepting any PayPal donations to myself personally during the fundraising period. If you send me money for me, I’m just going to put it into one of the endowments.

For “small donations” (let’s say under $100), I am personally going to be collecting the money up until the end of February, 2018 and paying it out to the office of advancement. This avoids overloading them with processing work. However, even with small donations there can be some tax benefits that I cannot provide, so if you wish to access those benefits you must contact the office of advancement directly. It’s totally up to you, no matter the size of your donation.

For larger donations, I’m going to ask that you do contact the office of advancement directly to have them process your donation.

Gotcha, now I need the details!

Basically I’m fundraising for three different endowments. If you want to donate, choose which endowment you are supporting. If none of these endowments suit what you’d like to see put in place, you don’t have to go through me at all! You can contact the office of advancement directly and set things up to suit your vision.

The three endowments so far are:

Solidarity Through Scholarship

This undergraduate endowment will be for Black students, in any year of Native Studies.

Métis in Space Indigenous Futurities Award

This undergraduate endowment is for Indigenous students, in any year of Native Studies.

The âpihtawikosisân Graduate Award

This graduate endowment will be for students pursuing a graduate degree in Native Studies, including combined graduate degrees.

Hammering out the details of eligibility for these awards will take some time. My goal is to make these funds as accessible as possible, and I am leaning towards financial need as the basic criteria. I am looking at how to do this without creating an onerous application process for students.

This is where you tell me exactly the steps to take

  1. Choose which endowment you wish to support.
  2. Decide how much you can donate.
  3. If you want to donate less than $100 and don’t wish to contact the office of advancement directly, please use the donate button on the side of this page, or use this direct paypal link:    You will be asked to add a note with your donation. Please indicate which endowment you are donating to, and if you wish to remain anonymous. Otherwise I will publish your name and the amount you have donated. If you don’t tell me where the money is going, I’m going to send it to whichever endowment ends up less funded than the others.
  4. If you want to donate more than $100 (or you just want to deal with the office of advancement directly no matter the amount of your donation), contact Della Paradis: della(at)ualberta.ca Ph. (780) 492-7537

Once a week I will update a fundraising page with a list of donations I have received, and their amounts. I will also check in with Jodi to see how much has been donated through the office of advancement. I will accept donations for these endowments until February 28th. If I receive anything as of March 1st, I will bounce the donations back, and ask you to deal directly with the office of advancement.

This is going to be awesome, and we’re going to create something here that’s going to have a lasting impact on students!

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