Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides announced at a press conference last week that the Alberta Government is investing $5 million over a 3 year period into Indigenous education. Nicolaides explained the money will be split into three different focuses.

The first focus will be on post-secondary institutions.

"$3.25 million will be invested to expand programs and create more spaces for indigenous learners at First Nation colleges and post secondary public postsecondary institutions," he explained.

Nicolaides said the government recognizes different groups may face additional challenges when accessing and pursuing higher education. This is why the government is putting an emphasis on post-secondary, with the hopes of giving stronger support to Indigenous communities.

"A recent Stats Canada report showed that 48% of Indigenous people between 25-64 year of age had a post-secondary qualification, which compares to 65% of the non-Indigenous population. A difference of 17%, a difference that we must continue to work on closing."

He added work is already being done by several post-secondary institutions to increase Indigenous enrolment.

The second focus will be a $1 million investment into workforce development initiatives.

"We will engage with Indigenous relations, First Nation colleges and other Indigenous partners to develop comprehensive plans to address Indigenous and government education, training, and employment opportunities. This could include supporting work, integrated learning placements, cultural relevance and flexibility in programming, two way partnerships with the Alberta transfer system and other student funding supports."

Finally, the remaining $750 000 will go to Trade Winds to Success Training Society, which is an Indigenous run group focusing on teaching Indigenous people the skills they need to know to work in trades. This money will help the society fund 40 extra students a year over the three year period.

"We're going to support 40 students per year in our union training program, so the students will come in, and they'll do our foundational program, which is 6 weeks, and then they'll go into a hands-on training program. These 40 students will be working with our union training partner, and that'll pay for their tuition, their tools, and their safety certification. And then they'll be complete and ready to go to work after that," said Joan Isaac, Executive Director of Trade Winds to Success Training Society.

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