Skip to main content

'That's reconciliation:' B.C. university waives tuition for local First Nation students


Students who are members of one of the seven First Nations whose traditional territories are home to Kwantlen Polytechnic University campuses will have their tuition and fees waived starting in the upcoming fall semester.

"Education is fundamental to reconciliation," said Alan Davis, KPU's president and vice chancellor. "We are committed to creating new opportunities and a welcoming environment for Indigenous students in higher education."

Davis received loud applause and cheers when he made the surprise announcement at the Surrey campus on Tuesday.

"That's huge. If it was me as a young person, I would totally jump onboard and utilize the opportunity that's put forward," said Rich Pierre who was emcee for the event.

Pierre, a member of the Katzie First Nation said he was caught off-guard by the announcement but is excited about what it means for young people in his community.

The tuition waiver applies to students who are members of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.

The Kwantlen Students Association is also waiving fees for eligible students.

"When they walk through the doors, they don't see themselves represented and so the goal is to try to shift that by having a stronger presence in all campuses going forward," said Gayle Bedard, vice-president of Indigenous leadership, innovation and partnerships at KPU.

"We want to create that sense of belonging."

In addition to the tuition announcement, the school also committed to a systemic transformation that will implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action.

At Tuesday's ceremony, KPU also unveiled a new orange shirt designed by fourth-year fine arts student Sylvia Simpson who chose to feature a bear claw because of what it symbolizes in her culture.

"Defending fiercely our children like a mother bear," she said. "And in the centre is a salmon egg which represents resilience, fruition, hope and future."

For young members of local First Nations, the tuition announcement unlocks boundless possibilities.

"That's reconciliation. We walk together," Pierre told the crowd. "We travel together with one thing in mind...and that's the future." Top Stories

Stay Connected