On April 22, 2020 Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced new programs and investments to support post-secondary students affected by COVID-19 including - $65.5 million to PSSSP (Post-Secondary Student Support Program) / UCEP to support First Nations students, currently enrolled and attending a post-secondary program. The Government of Canada will expand existing distinctions-based support for First Nations students pursuing post-secondary education by providing additional funding in 2020-2021.
The Yellowhead Tribal Council Executive of Chiefs (Chief Tony Alexis, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Chief Jonathan Frencheater, Sunchild First Nation, Chief Doug Beaverbones, O’Chiese First Nation and Chief Kurt Burnstick, Alexander First Nation) recognize the dire situation their students are facing due to COVID-19 impacts. Most students do not qualify for other federal/provincial emergency response programs, income supports, employment insurance and cannot obtain or pursue the summer employment opportunities they had hoped/planned.
YTC Executive of Chiefs recognizes the financial constraints our students are facing during these unprecedented times. They have made the decision (April 28, 2020) to continue to provide support to all current post-secondary students funded by YTC PSSSP with the continuance of the monthly living allowance to students who were funded through the YTC PSSSP for the winter 2020 academic term (January – April 2020).
While the Government of Canada is in the process of collaboration on funding approaches, allocation methodologies, our YTC students cannot wait, they have financial obligations and commitments that must be made (yesterday), for example, rent, food, utilities, child/family expenses. YTC Executive of Chiefs has approved the extension of the Monthly Living Allowance payments for the period of May and June 2020, with the first payment being available to students on May 1, 2020. YTC post-secondary students will receive their allowance via the same process as they did during their winter studies (electronic funds transfer).
The YTC Executive of Chiefs would like to encourage all their post-secondary students to continue on their path of life long learning and achieve their academic and career aspirations. It is with hope that this support will enable you to continue with your academic goals and not have COVID-19 impacts impeding students in moving forward with their studies.
We would like to acknowledge the efforts and commitments our students have made in completing their post-secondary programs for the winter term. We understand the effects of transitioning from a classroom setting to on-line delivery has impacted a lot of you, but with your determination and the support of both our YTC College and other Institutions you attend, you have achieved success in your studies.
The impacts of COVID-19 have not been easy to quickly make adjustments in your everyday life and education journey, we salute you in completing and withstanding those challenges. We anticipate some of these practices may continue into the fall 2020 term, we also understand and have expressed to Government of Canada (ISC) officials that our students require the appropriate infrastructure and technology to continue with their studies (equipment, hardware, software applications and connectivity) we continue to lobby the Government of Canada to provide our students with the much-needed support during this critical time of COVID-19 that we are all faced with. Our students deserve to continue their educational goals without interruption, please know that we are advocating every opportunity we have.
In closing, we would like to encourage you to follow the safety measures and procedures identified within your First Nation and by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Government of Alberta and Government of Canada. Continue to practice social distancing, staying home, regular hand washing and other means to ensure you and your family’s safety.
We wish you continued good health, stay safe and stay well. May the Creator watch over you and yours.
Chief Executive Officer
Yellowhead Tribal Council
Please contact PSSP Staff for more information:
Dawn Arcand, PSSSP Manager
Tiffany Arcand, Data Entry Clerk
Kristen Buffalo, Data Entry Clerk