SFU announces Greg Younging Endowment Award for Indigenous students

The endowment will fully fund an Indigenous student’s completion of a Master of Publishing degree

0
436
PHOTO: Mikołaj / Unsplash

Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

The Greg Younging Endowment Award has been introduced by SFU Publishing for Indigenous students pursuing a Master of Publishing (MPub) degree. Named in recognition of Dr. Gregory Younging, the award honours him as the first Indigenous graduate from the MPub program. Dr. Younging is the author of Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guidebook for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. He also worked as the assistant director of research for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Over the next three years, this award will create a “fully funded opportunity for an Indigenous student” to complete the MPub Degree at SFU. Penguin Random House Canada announced a three-year $45,000 donation commitment to the endowment. The first recipient will be awarded in Fall 2025.

Alexandra Krilow, recipient of the award’s undergraduate counterpart, spoke with The Peak about the endowment. She said she views it as an opportunity to take the financial burden off Indigenous students pursuing the program, and hopes it will “remind them that there is a place for them in advanced academic settings.”

Krilow cited a Statistics Canada report that said 48% of Indigenous peoples in Canada have post-secondary qualification. 

This endowment is a message for Indigenous students, that their voices not only matter but are incredibly valued — especially in publishing” — Alexandra Krilow

Many Indigenous peoples are the first generation of their family to attend university, which can mean their educational support system might not be the strongest. This endowment is a message for Indigenous students, that their voices not only matter but are incredibly valued — especially in publishing,” she said.

Indigenous peoples have faced intergenerational trauma from colonization and residential schools. As a result, Indigenous peoples have learned to “repress the different aspects of their culture,” Krilow explained. “It is no secret that Indigenous voices have been silenced throughout history.

“Telling our stories can be a way to help put a stop to this pattern. Art, music, writing, and other related industries to publishing allow for these stories not only to be shared, but to express some of the deep rooted feelings Indigenous peoples have.”

A 2013 report by Queen’s University said when Canada faced a financial deficit in 1996–98, the federal government limited core program funding to Indigenous elementary and secondary school education. 

The report showed continued underfunding of First Nations schools by approximately $3,000 compared to other provincial/private schools from 2003 to 2010.

This lack of funding along with the intergenerational effects of colonialism resulted in Indigenous communities facing social, health, and economic challenges today, which “undermine potential progress on First Nations education.”

Although Indigenous peoples face barriers to education, Krilow said she has seen an increase in Indigenous publications. She said the Greg Younging Endowment Award will contribute to the growth of Indigenous representation within the publishing industry.

“Formal education and the ability for industry connections to be made will allow Indigenous peoples in publishing to flourish,” Krilow said.

Founded 25 years ago, the MPub is an 18-month program and applications close on February 1 every year. Learn more about the program here.