Aboriginal Student Services

Posted by Megan on November 29, 2013

York & U

Did you know that York University offers some amazing resources and support for Aboriginal students? This guide will walk you through these in steps, from the time you are thinking of apply to York, to the first moments of your first year experience.

Why York?

York University is a great option for Aboriginal students. York offers some amazing resources including but not limited to:

  • Culturally sensitive academic advice and personal counselling
  • Help with communicating, advocating, and referring to on and off campus resources
  • Help with communicating with First Nations communities and Aboriginal organizations
  • Information about educational assistance opportunities
  • Funding procedures and guidelines
  • Education and awareness regarding Aboriginal culture

Note: this information, and more, can be found here.

Applying to York

One of the most important steps in having a successful application to York is ensuring that you meet the admission requirements. There are three main sub-categories: High School students, University & College transfer students, and Mature students. Qualifying as a high school student is pretty straightforward but let’s take a look at some main qualifiers for the other two application types:

To qualify as a transfer student you must: have completed a diploma program at college or at least two full semesters or one year of full time studies. You must also meet the minimum required averages, and keep in mind that unlike highschool students where the top 6 grades are used, all attempted courses will be included in your GPA.

To qualify as a mature student you must: be 21 or older for the first day of classes of the session to which you apply to and have been out of full time high-school for at least two years, and have attempted less than one full year of studies at a university or college, and do not have any recent unfavourable academic grades and finally you have demonstrated potential for success through academic, professional, or volunteer activities and other accomplishments.

Once you’ve decided which type of application to submit, you can work on filling out an Aboriginal admission statement. This is not a required step, but it might help your admission process. You can choose to submit such information as: a personal statement, supporting documentation of awards or letters of reference, and/or documentation of Aboriginal ancestry.

If you have any questions about applying to York and whether or not you qualify, please don’t hesitate to contact York’s Aboriginal Recruitment Officer at aro@yorku.ca.

Admitted – Now What?

At this point, you’ve been admitted to the York University community – Welcome! One of the most important steps before classes start is to make sure you have budgeted and have figured out your funding options. As an Aboriginal student you have a lot of different funding options.

Band Funding – If you are a First Nations (status) or Inuit student, you might be eligible for band funding. If you want to make an inquiry or you need help with this process, please email the Coordinator for the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services – Ray Pitawanakwat – at rpitawan@yorku.ca.

York Scholarships and Awards –

  •  Award for Aboriginal Students – one award recipient from each of the Provincial Territorial Organizations in Ontario will be selected. You must demonstrate financial need and have a minimum admission average of 70%. Recipients of this award are required to participate in a mentorship program. This award is valued at $5000 a year for a maximum of 4 years.
  • York Entrance Bursary for Aboriginal Students – this bursary is available to status and non-status student of Aboriginal ancestry and that demonstrate financial need. This bursary is renewable for a maximum of 3 years as long as the student maintains a cumulative GPA of 5 (C+) and enrols in a minimum of 18 credits (for full time status). This award is valued at $2,200 a year for a maximum of 4 years.

A list of other scholarships and bursaries for Aboriginal students can be found here.

Don’t forgot about other funding options such as OSAP, and educational lines of credit. OSAP consists of loans and bursaries/grants (which don’t have to be paid back). You can use a handy aid estimator here to get a rough idea of how much funding you can get. For more information about lines of credit, please contact your bank.

Attending York

Now that your funding options are all figured out, it’s time to get involved with the York community.

The Centre for Aboriginal Student Services is a great place to start. They are open from 8:30-4:30 Mondays to Fridays and they are located on the second floor of York Lanes in room 246.  They have an awesome events and activities calendar, located here, which offers various events every week including: meet and greets, Aboriginal educational sessions/teachings, counselling groups, DIY (art, instruments) events, etc. You can read more about the services that CASS offers here. You can also check out their Facebook page here.

A final resource for getting involved in the York community is YU Connect. YU Connect is an amazing online resource consisting of all the clubs and associations on campus. You can search by name, type, and more and if you decide to get involved with volunteering, you can also use YU Connect to keep track of your volunteer hours.

Best of luck with your applications, and if you have any questions comments or concerns, don’t hesitate to comment below.


Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

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