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UBC Okanagan student seeks to empower Indigenous youth as a Knowledge Keeper and educator

With help from the TELUS Student Bursary, Tiyanetkw Manuel is studying education, aiming to change the public school system and create new opportunities in her community.

Tiyanetkw Manuel, a first-year education student at UBC Okanagan, is working to build capacity among Indigenous youth in her community. Her goal is to become an Indigenous studies teacher and help students learn about Indigenous cultures, history and stories from an Indigenous perspective.

“Within the public school system, I have faced several systemic barriers, including racism, and I always thought that the school system had little hope for my education and underestimated me,” she says. “My last year in high school, I decided what I wanted to do after seeing the way my passion for helping Indigenous students with the way school courses are run led to a rise in participation, motivation, learning and curiosity.”

Tiiyanetkw Manuel, TELUS Student Bursary recipient

Manuel, a member of the Okanagan Nation, says her family started her on the path to teaching, ensuring she stayed connected to their First Nation’s culture and sharing the importance of passing it on. Manuel came to understand the importance of maintaining cultural integrity and sense of belonging, and the impact that it had on her well-being and mental health.

“I learned the true relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada,” she says. “So, I feel a strong obligation to my community, my family and myself. I want to teach future generations of First Nations youth and show them that we are valued, and we will heal as a community. I want to honour my ancestors and remaining language speakers by someday becoming a Nsyilxcen language speaker, Knowledge Keeper and educator.”

While education opens doors to a brighter future, education and living costs are rising, leaving many post-secondary students heavily in debt. For Indigenous students, the experience is even more challenging. Rates of post secondary completion for First Nations (45.3%), Métis (56.3%) and Inuit Peoples (33.6%) remain below the general population average of 68%.

TELUS launched its TELUS Student Bursary to help students like Manuel overcome financial barriers to education. With a $25-million endowment gift from TELUS and a $25-million commitment in fundraising from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, the bursaries are awarded annually to youth between the ages of 17 and 29,  who are accepted into or attending a college or university program at a Canadian post-secondary institution.

“All youth in Canada deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential,” says Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director, TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. “The bursary program will support hundreds of students each year, removing barriers to accessing education through both funding and support services that help them graduate.”

Students can apply for the TELUS Student Bursary directly through TELUS Friendly Future Foundation or  through partners across the country including University of Victoria, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Humber College, McGill University and Indspire, a national Indigenous registered charity.

The next Student Bursary application window opens in Spring, 2024. To learn more and how to apply, visit

Connect | @FriendlyFutureFoundation  @TELUS