Aboriginal post-secondary students in Prince George will feel more welcomed this school year thanks to more support services funding.

The Ministry of Advanced Education is giving the College of New Caledonia $375,000. This will fund special success workers, and programs “Elder Hours,” and cultural events.

Aboriginal Education Director Marlene Erickson says these services bridge gaps on campus.

“The key function they have is not only to have a sense of inclusiveness on campus for Aboriginal students but also to create more understanding for the whole college community.”

She says that level of inclusion is crucial for academic success.

“If they don’t have that feeling of belonging, they’re not really focusing in on their academics the way they could be. Having that sense of belonging allows them to function well within the institution.”

UNBC is also getting funding for a similar program to the tune of $200,000. School Manager of Aboriginal Student Engagement Bev Isaac agrees that the programs help students feel more accepted on campus.

“They’re leaving home for the first time, they’re feeling disconnected and by providing these resources, I think it helps with retention, it helps with their identity, it helps with their confidence because they have a place that they can relate to.”

These plans support the Province’s Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Training Policy and Framework and Action Plan (Aboriginal Framework). It was launched in 2012 and has since donated $2.7 million to CNC and $1 million for UNBC thus far.