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Indigenous vice-president of marketing for the RSU said she believes the number is not related to Ryerson’s efforts
Indigenous student enrolment at Ryerson has held consistently at two per cent since 2014, according to Ryerson’s Diversity Self-ID reports.
However, the university’s program co-ordinator for Aboriginal Student Services, Brian Norton, said the number is likely to trend upward once the latest data is taken into account.
“The issue with this Diversity Self-ID is that it only goes up to 2017-2018, so we are still a year and a half behind from the new data, which should be coming out sometime soon. After that, you may see a difference in numbers,” Norton said.
The Diversity Self-ID reports in 2014, 2015-2016 and 2018 included the percentage of Aboriginal student enrolment. The reports assess how the university is meeting its diversity goals.
According to Statistics Canada 2016 census, the number of people who reported themselves as Aboriginal was 4.9 per cent of Canada’s total population.
RSU’s vice-president of marketing, Victoria Anderson-Gardner, said she believes the low numbers are not related to Ryerson’s efforts. As an Indigenous person from the Eagle Lake First Nation reserve, she said that the federal government is the reason for the enrolment rates, due to funding limits on Indigenous reserves for students.
“Mainly because of my own experience in terms of coming from a northern reserve as another fellow Indigenous identifying person,” Anderson-Gardner said. “The systems are really built against Indigenous people from pursuing any post-secondary education.
“For different reserves, how it is set up for us is that we have to apply to your band or your reserve to see if you qualify for any post-secondary funding. Without that, it is a lot harder to qualify for OSAP … the funding does not cover the full amount either so I usually have to pick up the slack,” she added.
The university has been working with the RSU in planning Indigenous events, such as the powwow, for the past two years, Anderson-Gardner said.
“I have tried really hard to build that relationship and I am trying to make it a sustainable partnership that will continue,” she said.
The number of Indigenous students at Ryerson has been consistently around 400, according to Norton. However, he said those numbers are a result of the students identifying themselves through the Ontario Universities and Colleges application website, Ryerson Self-ID on RAMSS, or through the OSAP application.
Norton added that the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion is aiming to collect data on Ryerson Indigenous students, including what year and program they are in, for better results.