CIBC gives scholarship boost to Indigenous students

By College Relations | January 18, 2021

Maria Kruger, Certified Dental Assistant student
Maria Kruger, Certified Dental Assistant student

When Maria Kruger graduates as a Certified Dental Assistant from Okanagan College later this year, she will proudly stand among her people as a skilled professional. Kruger, who is of Okanagan/Shuswap descent, has a goal to graduate and work with people in her community on the Penticton Indian Band.

“I want to see our people go into skilled trades and be able to support our own communities. That’s one of my main goals,” says Kruger, who also cites her two-year-old son as inspiration behind her return to school.

A new donation from CIBC along with funding from Indspire – an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people – will create new opportunities for Indigenous students who want to enter health and social development programs at Okanagan College.

CIBC is donating $25,000 along with funding from Indspire to create a $44,000 award fund. For the next four years, five students per semester will have an opportunity to receive $2,200 towards the costs of their education in a range of health programs from Aboriginal Community Support Worker to Medical Device Reprocessing Technician to Health Care Assistants.

The gift is in support of the College’s Our Students, Your Health campaign, to raise $5-million to finish completion of a new Health Sciences Centre and provide support for students entering health care careers, which are in high demand across B.C.

“CIBC is proud to support the ambitions of Indigenous students, helping them achieve their goals,” says Jaimie Lickers, Vice President, Indigenous Banking, CIBC.

“These students play an important role in helping to strengthen their communities and inspire the next generation to further develop their skills and become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Mike DeGagné, President and CEO of Indspire, says: “We are pleased to be working with CIBC and Okanagan College to create this new opportunity for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students who want to pursue careers in health and social development programs. We look forward to being able to support these students as they embark on this important journey.”

Okanagan College has one of the largest Indigenous student populations of any post-secondary institution in B.C.

“We are committed to supporting Indigenous learners at the College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, adding the new Health Sciences Centre features Indigenous art and storytelling elements throughout the building.

“These awards will provide new supports for Indigenous students who will go on to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our region.”

According to Kruger, who received a different Indspire student award, support can make all the difference for students who have to juggle the costs of living along with their education.

“Daycare costs were much higher than I anticipated,” says Kruger. “Receiving awards gives me confidence but also helps me move forward and pay for essentials like healthy food, clothing and transportation.”

The Okanagan College Foundation has raised $3.5 million towards it’s $5-million goal to complete a new Health Sciences Centre. To learn more and donate, visit

Tags: Health Sciences Centre, OC Foundation, Certified Dental Assistant, Student, Inside OC



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