Nov. 28, 2023

Five Tips for Finding Funding as an Indigenous Student

Navigating the search for awards and opportunities
Student on laptop

Do you ever feel as an Indigenous university student that searching for awards, bursaries, and scholarships is like a job itself? Does it seem like finding the right funding takes a lot of time? As an Indigenous undergraduate student whose literal summer job has been to find and compile funding opportunities available to Indigenous students, I believe the answer to both questions to be, yes. Though, through my search for funding, I have come to take note of 5 tips I wish to share with you to hopefully help with your search.

1. Compare with other databases

Your search for awards should start with the University of Calgary’s award databases: either the undergraduate or graduate pages. If you are in a professional program, you may need to search both types of databases. Our university’s databases are quite comprehensive, though they are not always completely up-to-date with new awards and award changes. For this reason, you may want to compare our university’s award websites with other award websites such as:

2. Adjust search terms

Sometimes the names of awards change slightly year-to-year. So, you may want to adjust your search terms if you run into an inactive webpage when applying for an award. For example, “Aboriginal Buffalo Engineering Award” may have been updated to “Indigenous Buffalo Engineering Award.” Perhaps shorten your search term to “Buffalo Engineering” to find the up-to-date award. Additionally, it seems that a lot of awards that once used “Aboriginal” in their title have recently changed their names to “Indigenous.”

3. Search by donor

Related to tip 2, donors often seem to change the actual awards given each year. The good news is that often more awards are being created rather than discontinued. To find new awards by the same donor, perhaps make your search terms more general. As an example, instead of directly searching for “Tradish-Delish’s Culinary Bursary,” try searching for “Tradish-Delish bursary.” With the broader search term, you may then find the new “Tradish-Delish Community Involvement Bursary.”

4. Scholarships vs Awards vs Bursaries

The term “awards” is often used as a catch-all of the various types of monies. Though, it is important to note that there are different types of awards and requirements, and many vary in their application requirements. As an example, when applying you may be asked to provide a written response about your achievements, life story, community involvement, etc.

The main three types of awards include:


·         Scholarship criteria are the most academically rigorous requiring a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.20 and often, but not always, ask for you to be involved in your community.


·         Awards require a minimum GPA of 2.60 and often, but not always, require additional achievements.


·         Bursaries require a minimum GPA of 2.00 and some sort of financial need.

5. Resiliency and rarity

Lastly, as is often required of us students, we must keep a spirit of resiliency when searching for awards. While you may encounter inactive webpage links to apply, outdated awards, etc., the harder finds may make for greater gains. In other words, there is a good chance not many fellow students have applied to the rare, hard-to-find, awards that you may find.