The University of Waterloo will now cover the tuition of students from the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The university will also offer domestic rates for First Nations students from elsewhere in Canada and the United States.
According to the UW president and vice-chancellor, Vivek Goel, the move is part of the university’s efforts towards decolonization, reconciliation, and indigenization. The University of Waterloo’s assistant vice-president for Indigenous Relations, Jean Becker, told CBC that she is happy to see the university take this step. “I think it’s really important because it is an action that goes beyond nice things, nice words and actually hopefully will be of some benefit to those particular communities.”
With this initiative, UW seeks to bridge the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Some universities like UBC (University of British Columbia) and Syracuse University in New York have similar initiatives, but the University of Waterloo is the first university in Canada to waive tuition for traditional territory holders.
Becker further stated that it is a frequent misperception that First Nations students from all throughout Canada can attend university for free. She also stated that her office is looking into bridging programmes with high schools to assist Indigenous students in meeting post-secondary admission requirements.
The waiver will go into effect as of fall 2023 and will apply to all current and incoming students from the aforementioned First Nations.