KPU unveils tuition waiver, new framework for action, to advance truth and reconciliation

Tue, Jun 20, 2023

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will waive tuition fees for eligible Indigenous students as part of its newly-detailed commitment to advancing truth and reconciliation.

Beginning fall 2023, the university will waive tuition for incoming and current KPU students who are members of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem First Nations.

“Education is fundamental to reconciliation,” says Dr. Alan Davis, President and Vice-Chancellor at KPU. “We are committed to creating new opportunities and a welcoming environment for Indigenous students in higher education. Offering free tuition to eligible students continues KPU’s efforts to have open and generative partnerships with Indigenous communities.”

KPU’s announcement, making it among the first post-secondary institutions in B.C. to introduce such a tuition waiver, coincided with the release of a landmark framework to address and reduce ongoing systemic colonialism, oppression, and racism that Indigenous people continue to experience.

The xéʔelɬ KPU Pathway to Systemic Transformation is the university’s response and commitment to upholding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. It also addresses calls for justice stemming from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA People, and the United Nation’s Declaration Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The xéʔelɬ – a hən̓ q̓ əmin̓ əm̓ phrase for pathways pronounced hee-yeath – was developed with support from the Indigenous Advisory Committee at KPU. It commits KPU to an ongoing process of systemic transformation through actions detailed in six pathways:

  • Reflecting Upon Our Own Biases: Examine beliefs and biases about Indigenous peoples and cultures.
  • Open to the Community: Create a system that is culturally responsive and ready for all learners.
  • Indigenous Voices Matter: Strengthen relationships and partnerships with Indigenous people.
  • Holistic Learning and Well-being: Weave Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, being, and becoming in education.
  • Weaving Indigenous Worldviews: Foster sense of belonging, personal growth, well-being, and empowerment.
  • Thought Meets Action: Commit KPU to annual funding to build capacity for Indigenization across all five campuses.

Gayle Bedard, Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Leadership, Innovation and Partnerships at KPU, says the xéʔelɬ framework will provide important guidance to the KPU community.

“Weaving together our traditional languages, vibrant cultures and histories with Western knowledge systems will create educational opportunities to learn the true colonial history of Canada. As non-Indigenous peoples commit to walking this path of transformation with respect, accountability and transparency, they will proudly recognize their contributions to a better and stronger future for Indigenous peoples and their communities,” says Bedard.

An event celebrating the release of the xéʔelɬ framework Monday included performances from Indigenous jazz musician Hailey Wallis, the Wild River Drum Group, and Nyla Carpentier.

KPU Chancellor Kwuntiltunaat (Kim Baird) says post-secondary institutions have a critical role to play in how Indigenous peoples and Canadians move forward.

“We are at a unique time in the history of this country – a time when we are confronting the colonial past of Canada,” she says. “As KPU’s first Indigenous woman chancellor, I am proud of seeing the work xéʔelɬ represents to ensure KPU contributes to transformation over time.”

More details about the tuition waiver will soon be available from Indigenous Student Services at KPU.

xéʔelɬ KPU Pathway to Systemic Transformation