USask turns down $500,000 "race-based" donation -

USask turns down $500,000 “race-based” donation

Says request for scholarship for “non-aboriginals” violates university policy


The University of Saskatchewan turned down a donation of $500,000 because the donor wanted the funds used to support scholarships for “non-aboriginal” students, reports the National Post.

The university states a race-based scholarship would violate both university policies and human rights legislation.

I’ve always been bothered by race-based scholarships because they do not directly target the factors that disadvantage students.

Yes, students of aboriginal backgrounds are more likely to be social-economically disadvantaged. Yes, the history of how we treated (and continue to treat in some cases) aboriginals has resulted in a lot of the disadvantages that aboriginal students face.

That said, the problem is not their race and I’ve always seen scholarships that use race as a determining factor leaving the impression that race may be the problem.

Bursaries should be targeted to the actual disadvantages they are supposed to address. I find it perfectly acceptable to have bursaries designed to assist students moving from a rural reserve into a university town. There are plenty of bursaries that have geographic restrictions. Having funds with the criteria of being a descendant of someone who was put in residential schools is acceptable. The trauma of those schools continues to be passed down generation by generation. It is actually targeting a real problem. A scholarship based purely on need would be even better.

Unless race is the problem then why do we use it as a criteria to find a solution? Simple: because it makes things easy. Why go further than the skin layer of the problem?

(Hattip: Dale Kirby)


USask turns down $500,000 “race-based” donation

  1. I’m kind of glad this issue has worked its way up to being in the national spotlight. Targeting scholarships based on heritage is a practice that I’ve always been suspect of and I’m sure it’s something that happens across Canada. Mind you, I’m a middle class white male from an urban setting, and thus have no “real obstacles” to education, so I’m probably biased.

    I first read the version of the story and it seems to me that there is a fine distinction between “selective” and “exclusive”. My impression is that if the donor had “targeted” the scholarship at those of Caucasian heritage, rather than excluding those of Aboriginal heritage, then this might have gone through.

  2. It should have just been accepted. There are scholarships designated for aboriginals only, so I think it fair that there also be ones excluding as well. It isn’t equal to give one group something and exclude EVERYONE else, because there are successful aboriginal people. To say an entire race or culture of people needs help is prejudice in itself, lumping everyone into that one group.
    People have got away from the point of the scholarship, it’s designed to help people. Saskatchewan needs doctors and nurses and the scholarship was for medical purposes. If the university wants to be “EQUAL” then there should be no scholarships to anyone because of their race or color of their skin. There are other groups of people who do have to struggle for what they get, not only one group of people. Who’s to say that a person of any other race doesn’t have it as hard as an aboriginal person?

    Eliminate the problem by removing all race based scholarships, otherwise this shouldn’t even be an issue.

  3. Just a few examples of “race-based” U of S scholarships/grants/awards:

    Godon McCormack Memorial Graduate Scholarship for Native Students
    SaskEnergy Awards for Aboriginal Students
    The Health and Wellness Nursing Bursary for Aboriginal Students
    Cyril Tobias Memorial Aboriginal Awards
    Andre Renaud Memorial Scholarship

    Seems that “The university states a race-based scholarship would violate both university policies and human rights legislation” only works when they want it to.

  4. What bothers me with this is that it seems like the donor just put that condition to “prove a point”, which to me seems like a slightly childish attitude. If a non-aboriginal student or parent of a student wants to challenge the legality of scholarships directed towards aboriginal students, they should just do that.

  5. only in saskatchewan is a double race bias standard!!

    i am now living in BC and the Natives here, are for the most part educated, working and a lot richer than white folk…and great business people. I seldom here the complaints like I did in sk.
    what makes the sk natives feel it’s tough to get a job with an education because they are native?…the gov. for a long time had an exclusive on hiring minorities

    I think if someone puts up a bursary to help someone in ‘their’ terms of need’, it is selective, not bias -it could be a farm kid, an aboriginal,a number of organizations have exclusions, one to benefit a chinese student…we are multicultural now you know!! (which one commentor mentioned how biased awards were for the benefit of natives, no other culture complained – for heaven sakes they even have aboriginal kindergarten immersion now)- what about us just having plain old equality rights………..after all there is a group of us that is heavily taxed as well.
    – I don’t feel ‘equal’ in this country, have two degrees, university and college, and always found it difficult to get meaningful work in sk. and I couldn’t afford past 2 years of Univ.
    for my kids.
    never was I given the benefits my aboriginal friends were for education in Sk. otherwise I would of returned to school at 40 -instead I worked and did long distance learning to earn my degree.

    albeit it this or that – but I am fed up with all the screaming and shouting prejudice we allow in this country, no one is excluded, it depends on the individual and their action(s)

  6. Agree with Lori 100%