Easing the minds of Metis students attending Manitoba post secondary institutions is the focus of the latest money being given to students by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), according to Minister of Provincial Education Joan Ledoux.
The MMF will be distributing over $4 million to Metis students this week to alleviate the financial burden many students face, which are magnified even more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will be going to over 1,000 students as part of the MMF’s Post Secondary Education Support Program.
“This is some dollars that are there to help them just pull through this so that they can focus on their education and complete and fulfill their dream instead of worrying about their bank account,” Ledoux told APTN News.
Josh Swain is in his fifth and final year as a full time student at the University of Winnipeg.
He turned down an offer to work at his previous job to focus on school.
Swain said not having to worry about paying bills allows him to focus on finishing his degree.
“I really, really wanted to focus on my education this year and make sure my grades stayed up so I ended up declining going back to work so you know that made me ineligible for any government benefits which I knew would happen,” Swain said via Zoom interview.
“So this additional assistance form the MMF just makes me feel like I’m you know going to be able to make it through the end of this education program.”
The Post Secondary Education Support Program is part of a 10-year post secondary education accord that was struck between the federal government and the MMF in 2019.
As part of the agreement, the MMF will distribute $90 million over 10 years and then $9.9 million for each year after.
This is the second year of the accord and there are two programs Metis students can apply to for financial aid.
One of the supports is the MMF Post-Secondary Education 2020-2021 Support Program for educational related supports like tuition, books, travel support, and living allowances.
The other support being offered is the MMF COVID-19 Emergency Student Assistance Program for those who cannot find work due to COVID-19.
“It is designated for post secondary education so they have to be enrolled in there, and we have two separate applications, we have one application that’s for the post secondary education for university/college and then we have the COVID dollars where we’re giving the additional supports to our Metis students,” Ledoux stated.
Along with the funding, students are able to participate in a free educational program put on by the MMF to learn about Metis people and culture.
“It’s kind of like a three part, it’s talking about the history of the Metis people, and then giving also a bit of a background on what metis culture is. Because then, I know a lot of students, a lot of Metis students are still kind of reconnecting with their metis identity so I really like that as part of the program,” Swain said.
As of Nov. 19, 800 students applied for educational funding and an additional 250 students applied for COVID-19 relief funding.