We know that Inuit students face an obstacle course of challenges related to pursuing and succeeding in post‐secondary education (PSE). We not only face unique academic barriers, but those related to navigating specific family circumstances, like housing, childcare and travel, that can stand in the way of success. Funding programs to support our people in overcoming these difficulties often pose barriers of their own — strict residency requirements to qualify or a narrow scope of programming or schools that can keep talented Inuit from pursuing their dreams.
During a series of engagement sessions over the past few years, Inuit students, graduates and their families told us about issues that had stood in their way. We used this information to develop an Inuit Post‐Secondary Education Strategy and accompanying comprehensive federal funding package, in collaboration with Inuit regional organizations and the Government of Canada, to provide support to Inuit students throughout all stages of their PSE careers.
In June, we announced a new Inuit PSE Program funded through an investment of $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million per year thereafter announced in Budget 2019. This is a new stream of funding for Inuit, supple menting funding available through existing provincial and territorial programs. The funding is available to Inuit enrolled under Inuit Nunangat land claims agreements, regardless of where they live or where they are going to school.
The program’s primary goal is to provide straightforward and direct financial support for Inuit students in addition to any other funding they may receive through other programs. Another critical aspect of the program is the development of regional engagement activities to draw more Inuit students into PSE, as well as the creation of new Inuit‐specific support services like academic training and counselling, to help our students succeed in PSE programs, graduate, and in turn inspire others to pursue their PSE goals.
We want to increase PSE attainment rates to 42 per cent, a level consistent with the non‐Indigenous population, from the current level of 14 per cent. Our strategy proposes some initial steps towards equity in PSE by creating the conditions necessary to raise Inuit attainment, and we will continue to work with Inuit across Canada to respond to our students’ needs. It starts with the ambitious plan to double the number of Inuit graduates over the next 10 years, with a major emphasis on increasing university level education among Inuit.
Inuit success in PSE makes sense for Inuit students and Inuit communities, and it makes sense for Canada as a whole. Over the 10‐year course of our strategy, we project that the income for Inuit graduates will rise compared to the income they would have earned under a status‐quo scenario. Over the course of their careers, the additional Inuit graduates to emerge from this 10‐year funding strategy are projected to have an earning potential of $3.7 billion compared to the status quo.
But it doesn’t just support our financial future. Supporting the success of Inuit students also supports our self‐determination as a people. It sets the foundation for Inuit leadership and success in all aspects of Inuit society, which is a benefit that surpasses any economic value. For more information about the Inuit Post‐Secondary Education Program, please visit www.itk.ca/ipse.
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami