Aboriginal Services

Students filling offering satchels

As a part of Okanagan College’s commitment to enhancing the participation of Aboriginal learners, the College provides Aboriginal support services at each of the four campuses.

Our goal is to provide culturally relevant support including:

  • visiting Elders
  • cultural and academic workshops
  • Aboriginal peer mentors
  • Aboriginal Student Centres
  • Aboriginal awards, scholarships and bursary information
  • assistance with band funding applications
  • providing personalized daily supports
  • computer access

Are you interested in becoming a student at Okanagan College? Have questions about how Aboriginal Services can support you? Fill out this short survey below and we will contact you shortly.

Contact the Aboriginal Services team

Applying to OC

Application steps

Explore program information and decide which program and campus interests you. Review program requirements, admissions, and minimum grades needed.

Our dedicated Aboriginal Transitions team is here to help you plan out your application, review admission requirements and provide guidance on available funding. They can also help you explore your options if you are unsure of which program to pursue. If you have detailed questions about programs, transfer credits or laddering to another program, please see Education Advising to contact an OC Education Advisor.

Meet the team

Talk with your First Nations or Métis Associations Education Coordinator, college Financial Aid staff, college Aboriginal Transitions Planners or community employment counsellors.

To submit an application you can apply online. There is a $30 non-refundable application fee. If you have detailed questions about programs, transfer credits or laddering into another program, please see Education Advising.

Once you apply, you will receive a student number and login information for myOkanagan. You can then see the status of your application and check on required documents. The College will email you about your application status.

The following are a few things to consider when applying:

  • On the first business day of October each year Okanagan College begins accepting applications for academic programs for Fall programs starting the next year.
  • The grade and percentages listed in the admission requirements are the minimum grades required to enter a program.
  • Okanagan College may cease to accept applications for a given intake if the number of applications submitted greatly exceeds enrolment capacity. Early application for all programs is strongly advised.

Okanagan College is committed to increasing the access to, and completion of education for students with Aboriginal ancestry. The College will annually set aside a predetermined number of spots specifically for students with Aboriginal ancestry; this number being commensurate with student interest, available classes and learning support resources. While the number may vary from program to program, it will not normally exceed six percent of the intake capacity for any given program in a particular year.

Academy of Indigenous Scholars

Information about the Academy of Indigenous Scholars

Once in the Academy, students work with an Aboriginal Services staff member to create an achievement plan based on their own needs. Students will work through their plan for the duration of the year.

Indigenous medicine wheel displaying intellectual, educational, spiritual and physical categories

It’s important to us that we enhance your experience according to your diverse needs. Being a student at Okanagan College is not just about academics, but also about addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as well. The Academy of Indigenous Scholars will help students enhance their experience in all these areas.

The medicine wheel means different things to different Indigenous communities but what they all share is the concept of balance.

The following provides examples of what types of supports are available to students depending on their needs and their own achievement plan.

 

Eligibility for the Academy of Indigenous Scholars

Indigenous students are encouraged to apply regardless of grade point average. To be eligible for the Academy you must:

  • Be an Indigenous student (someone who self-declares as having First Nation status/non-status, Metis or Inuit ancestry)
  • Be a first-year or first-time student to Okanagan College, or feel you could benefit from additional supports
  • Plan to enroll in at least three courses in each term (3 courses in Fall and 3 courses in Winter)
  • Attend an in-person interview with an Aboriginal Services staff member to gauge your willingness and suitability for the program

Apply to Academy of Indigenous Scholars

Interested students can take full advantage of the Academy of Indigenous Scholars by applying to the Academy. Students will receive an email from an Aboriginal Transitions Planner to arrange a meeting after they have submitted their application.

Each student will receive a log book that is meant to help students carry out their own achievement plan. It’s up to the student to carry out the plan’s recommendations.

Resources

Sponsorship

If you are sponsored by your First Nation, Aboriginal organization, employer or government agency, your sponsor must provide a signed letter to Okanagan College. The letter will be used to bill your sponsor. The sponsor letter should contain the following:

  • Your full legal name that you are registered with at Okanagan College
  • Your student number
  • What type of charges the sponsor is willing to pay on your behalf, providing as much detail as possible. These charges could include the non-refundable tuition deposit, tuition fees, mandatory fees, student association fees, health, dental, books, supplies, material fees or any other billing items
  • The maximum allowable amount the sponsor is willing to pay per term (if there is a maximum)

The sponsor should also send a copy of the letter to you, so you have a copy on file if you need to show it to the Registrar's office or Bookstore.

All sponsorship letters and documentation can be faxed or mailed to (regardless of the campus the sponsored student will be attending):

All sponsorship letters and documentation can be emailed to (AccountsReceivable@okanagan.bc.ca), faxed or mailed to the address below (regardless of the campus the sponsored student will be attending). All sponsorship letter should be submitted into Finance prior to the fee payment deadline. Your sponsor will be billed at a later date.

Note: Information will not be released to your sponsor without an information release form signed by you. You can add the sponsor's name under "Consent to Release Information" on your myOkanagan student page. To learn how to release your information look under the Other Information page.

Mailing Address:
Finance
Okanagan College
1000 KLO Road
Kelowna, BC, V1Y 4X8

Fax:
250-862-5479

Awards

Okanagan College offers up to $50,000 annually to support Aboriginal Students.

Find out more about awards available through Financial Aid and Awards.

AANDC Aboriginal Bursaries Search Tool
The Aboriginal Bursaries Search Tool is a searchable list of more than 750 bursaries, scholarships and incentives across Canada.

Indspire Awards
The Indspire awards used to be known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) has grown into the largest non-governmental funding body for First Nations, Inuit and Métis post-secondary students across Canada.

Bursary and scholarship awards are provided to over 600 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in a range of areas. The Indspire awards have given over $32 million to over 8,400 recipients since its beginning.

Indspire offers financial aid (scholarships and bursaries) through three major categories: Post-Secondary Education, Fine Arts and Cultural Projects, and Health Careers.

Irving K. Barber BC Aboriginal Student Award
The B.C. Aboriginal Student Award was established in 2008 as part of the Provincial Government's strategy to improve Aboriginal access and achievement. Its purpose is to support Aboriginal people in getting post-secondary education by reducing financial barriers.

The Scholarship Society administers the program in partnership with the Victoria Foundation. Awards of $1,000 - $3,500 are available for Aboriginal people pursuing post-secondary education that is at least nine weeks long.

Assistance for former children and youth in care

Provincial Tuition Waiver Program
Starting in September 2017, students who are attending or planning to attend a BC public post-secondary institution may be eligible for this tuition waiver program. Click on the link above for more information on eligibility criteria and application form.

Youth Education Assistant Fund
Full-time students who were adopted or in foster care as children may be eligible for this grant. Click the link above for more information on the eligibility criteria and application form.

Events and important dates

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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre campuses
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre campuses
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre campuses
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre, Other campuses
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm campuses
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Other campus
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre, Other campuses
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Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke Centre campuses

Aboriginal Education Council

The UBC Okanagan's campus (UBCO) and Okanagan College (OC) Aboriginal Education Council (Council) provide OC and UBCO with advice, recommendations and guidance to improve the participation and success of Aboriginal students in OC and UBCO programs. Through collaborative and inclusive engagement, the Council assists OC and UBCO in identifying educational needs and goals of Aboriginal peoples, while also enhancing Aboriginal cultural understandings within the respective institutions.

Learn about the Aboriginal Education Council

Meet the Aboriginal Services team

Marilyn Alexis

Aboriginal Transitions Planner | Education Advisor
Office: Main Building A306
Campus: Vernon
Phone: 250-545-7291 ext. 2284

I'm a member of the Lower Similkameen Nation but was born In Vernon, B.C. I was raised on both the Lower Similkameen and Okanagan reserves. After graduating from Vernon Senior Secondary, I attended Trinity Western University and completed both my Bachelor of Science degree (majoring in Biochemistry) and my requirements for Naturopathic Medicine. I spent three additional years training with Wild Rose College in Vancouver and completed my preceptorship during the summer months at the Naturopathic Clinic in Penticton, B.C. While raising my children, Willow and Sage, I decided to change career paths and work for Okanagan University College as an Academic Advisor and First Nation Mentor. I've worked with OUC and OC for the past seven years. I'm energetic, supportive, and I encourage students to persevere and to not quit. I always say your first year is the big challenge, and when someone says you can’t, I know you can.
 

Caroline Chartier

Aboriginal Transitions Planner
Office: Salmon Arm Building 184A
Campus: Salmon Arm
Phone: 250-832-2126 ext. 8275
Aboriginal Services Caroline Chartier

I'm a member of the Lakota Sioux Nation with Métis ancestry, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba. I attended elementary and junior high school in Winnipeg before moving to B.C. and attending high school in Vancouver. Soon thereafter I got married and had a son. I continued my education through night classes and weekend courses at local colleges while working full time and raising a family. In 1997 I moved to the Okanagan where I was hired by School District #83 (Shuswap School District) as a First Nations Support Worker. In 2006, I was hired by Okanagan College as an Aboriginal Mentor for the Salmon Arm Campus and in 2010 hired as the Aboriginal Recruiting and Events Assistant for the North Okanagan/Shuswap-Revelstoke Region. I am passionate about what I do and I take pride in helping students in any way I can.

Jewell Gillies

Aboriginal Transitions Planner
Office: Arts Building 105
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4498
Aboriginal Services Jewell Gillies

Jewell is currently seconded to Co-op Indigenous Initiatives Project - return date: April 1, 2021

Jewell is Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation on the West Coast (Wolf clan). She comes from 5 plus years working as an Aboriginal Student Advocate for School District 23 (Central Okanagan). In that time Jewell has fostered enduring relationships with her students, their families, and the community supports to provide a holistic wrap around approach to support for Indigenous youth. Her goal has been to provide cultural/spiritual practices and teachings as well as support a student’s sense of understanding of their indigenous identity as part of their overall educational journey.

Jewell's work experience prior to advocacy was in the criminal justice system serving as a Police Officer for the City of Vancouver Police Department for over 5 years. She is passionate about connecting with her community and providing them every opportunity possible to see success in their life goals. Jewell feels very fortunate to be able to raise her young child in the traditional territories of the Okanagan people and spends as much time as possible out exploring the hiking/biking trails and beaches.

Marcella Trotter

Aboriginal Transitions Planner
Office: Sunoka Building C13
Campus: Penticton
Phone: 250-492-4305 ext. 3280
Marcie Trotter

I am a member of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band in Keremeos B.C. I joined Okanagan College in February, 2010 in the role of Aboriginal Recruiting and Events Coordinator for the South Okanagan-Similkameen and Central Okanagan regions. I have a BA in Recreation Administration from the University of Alberta. Prior to joining Okanagan College I worked for more than 10 years with School District #53 (Okanagan-Similkameen) as a First Nations Support Worker for Similkameen Elementary Secondary School.

I spend most of my days connecting with local Aboriginal Communities to assist Aboriginal students with their educational goals and I help students discover opportunities at Okanagan College. For any questions or requests I can be reached at my home campus in Penticton.

Anthony Isaac

Aboriginal Services Coordinator
Office: Student Services Building 105A
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4322

Anthony is currently Seconded to Indigenization Portfolio

Anthony joined Aboriginal Services at Okanagan College in 2014. He is Ojibway, a member of the Ajijaak Indoodem (Crane Clan) and comes from Bkejwanong Territory, otherwise known as Walpole Island First Nation located in South Western Ontario. He earned a BSc degree in Health Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. Continuing in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Anthony completed his Master’s degree in Occupation Science, focusing his photovoice research on the occupational injustices faced by First Nations youth as they pursued post-secondary education.

Anthony has over 10 years of experience working in Aboriginal education and his professional background includes work as an Aboriginal Advisor, researcher, and program coordinator. He has a strong passion for hockey, hiking, mountain biking, camping, hunting, canoeing, and surfing. Anthony feels honored to live, work and play here on the traditional and unceded territories of Okanagan-Syilx and Secwepemc people(s).

Jessica MacDonald

Aboriginal Transitions Planner
Office: Student Services Building 124B
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4931

Request a Viewbook

Want to browse our programs? Or perhaps explore a department's offerings a bit more? Request a Viewbook or other brochure from the Aboriginal Services team.