I first read about the University of Sakatchewan’s decision to reject the $500,000 bursary specified for non-aboriginals just before being handed a $1,100 quote on the repairs needed to fix my automobile.
It is nearly impossible to investigate this matter without pissing someone off.
I need money. I am a non-aboriginal student.
Initially I was pretty concerned. My first reaction was one of absolute anger at the university for rejecting a bursary on behalf of struggling students. As far as I could tell — which at the time wasn’t very far — it was only partially racist because non-aboriginals did not mean just white people. I thought it could be maybe 73 per cent racist.
I then realized that you can’t have degrees of racism; there’s no ”˜“mildly racist” card to play here; it’s just racist. Mind you, I don’t particularly believe that we are in any way different “races” I’m pretty sure we all belong to the same species and that “race” is just a word used to dehumanize minorities and create hierarchies based on skin colour.
I wish I could cut this issue in two and evaluate only the fact that the U of S turned down money being offered willingly to its students rather than getting into the whole race issue, admittedly because I am afraid to get into the whole race issue.
The incident brought a significant amount of discussion and passion from both sides of the argument. Both sides seemed to hearken back to fairness as the primary concern in this situation, and both sides had very different views on what was “fair.”
The side supporting the bursary considered it fair because it evened the playing field for struggling non-aboriginal students who do not expect and rarely receive bursaries or awards in contrast to Aboriginal Peoples who receive a considerable amount of support through a variety of channels, justifiably so. The side that supported the rejection of the bursary considered it a victory for fairness because aboriginal students need the support and to exclude them from the bursary would be inherently unfair, obviously.
The bursary was offered under the misconception that aboriginal students get a “free ride” at post-secondary institutions. It was specified for medical or nursing students in which case excluding Aboriginal Peoples would be a bad idea considering the dire need for more aboriginal doctors. The bursary did not adhere to university policies because it blatantly excluded a disadvantaged group.
I am so conflicted on this issue. On one hand, I am upset that my fellow students will have to struggle a little bit more than they had to because of this incident and on the other hand I don’t even know if I would want to accept a bursary that I knew excluded my peers on the basis of race.
I am curious about whether the alumnus who offered the bursary will adjust her specifications and try again or whether she is dead set on excluding Aboriginal Peoples from the money and no one gets anything.