University of Waterloo waiving tuition for Six Nations students in historic move

Students wishing to head to the University of Waterloo from Six Nations or Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation will now be able to attend tuition-free.

The university made the announcement last week, saying it was a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of truth and reconciliation and the fact the school sits on the traditional territory of both First Nations.

“Indigenous students who are members of these bands (on whose traditional territory the University of Waterloo is situated) and who are pursuing studies in a graduate or undergraduate program at Waterloo are eligible for this waiver,” the university said in a press release. “This is part of Waterloo’s active work toward reconciliation and is a response to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

It’s the first time a university in Canada has offered Indigenous students a full-tuition waiver for students from local First Nations where the school sits.

“This initiative continues Waterloo’s efforts to build and strengthen the university’s relationship with the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit,” the university noted in a press release.

The tuition waiver will be effective as of fall 2023 but can’t be applied to terms prior to fall 2023.

To further support access to education, the school is offering the same tuition rates for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students from Canadian provinces and territories outside Ontario as students within the province.

The university is also offering Native American students from the continental U.S. Ontario domestic tuition instead of paying international student tuition, citing the Jay Treaty as part of the motivation. The Jay Treaty speaks to there being no artificial border between Canada and the United States when it comes to the free passage of Indigenous people across the continent.

To quality for tuition-free students, students must be pursuing graduate or undergraduate studies and must be a member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation or Six Nations of the Grand River.

“Waterloo recognizes that identifying who is and who is not a member of an Indigenous community must be done by the community, not the university,” the university noted. “For that reason, the validation process will rely on students submitting the accepted citizenship/membership cards that show they are an enrolled member of that community.”

In cases where no documentation exists, an Indigenous-led committee at Waterloo will consider tuition waiver requests on an individual basis.

Students will be asked for a signed affidavit that outlines their claim and which includes a provision that if the information supplied proves false, that student’s tuition waiver, employment, award, etc. could be rescinded.

Claimants for the tuition waiver may also be asked for familial references, and/or a First Nations, Métis, or Inuit-elected or traditional leader’s reference.

Documents and information for Six Nations and MCFN students wishing to enrol at Waterloo this fall will be available on Waterloo’s Website beginning next month (June).


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