BMO Financial Group announced a donation of $750,000 to TRU that will support scholarships, bursaries and awards for Indigenous health-care students and Indigenous undergraduate researchers, the Knowledge Makers.

BMO Financial Group announced a donation of $750,000 to TRU that will support scholarships, bursaries and awards for Indigenous health-care students and Indigenous undergraduate researchers, the Knowledge Makers.

BMO donates $750K for Indigenous students at TRU

Briana Tetlichi wanted to be a nurse. In her remote community of Old Crow, home to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Yukon, nurses are the primary health-care providers and a crucial thread in the fabric of the community.

“I’ve had some negative experiences where I felt judged or unheard. But I’ve also had amazing experiences where I felt like the nurses cared and made an effort to understand our community and our culture,” Tetlichi says. “Those nurses are the ones who inspired me to go into nursing and inspired the type of nurse I want to be.”

In 2020, Tetlichi completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and returned to Old Crow to live and work, serving a fly-in community she uniquely understands.

On December 10, 2020, BMO Financial Group announced a donation of $750,000 to TRU that will support more students like Tetlichi by funding scholarships, bursaries and awards for Indigenous health-care students and undergraduate researchers. The gift is a significant investment in Indigenous learners, who represent 10 percent of TRU’s student population.

“We are grateful that BMO has dedicated this funding to advance the work Indigenous students are doing to achieve at their highest potential,” says TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Brett Fairbairn. “As a university, we have a responsibility in reconciliation. That includes honouring our relationship with the Secwépemc people on whose lands we reside, reducing barriers to post-secondary education and ensuring our learning community is a place where everyone truly belongs. Today’s announcement creates more opportunities for Indigenous learners to succeed.”

BMO is dedicating $400,000 to student awards for the Knowledge Makers, an award-winning mentorship program that guides Indigenous researchers starting at the undergraduate level. A second set of awards totalling $350,000 for the School of Nursing will support Indigenous students across various nursing and health-care assistant programs in Kamloops and Williams Lake. The donation contributes to TRU’s Limitless campaign to raise $50 million, pushing the total beyond $46 million to date.

“BMO values its long relationship with TRU. We are honoured to support Indigenous students through scholarships and awards. Education is one of the three pillars of BMO’s commitment to Indigenous communities,” says Paul Seipp, head of Business Banking, Western Canada, BMO Financial Group. “Our actions and progress against these pillars and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 92, are guided by our Indigenous advisory council and employee Sharing Circle and continue to be a priority for BMO.”

Tomorrow’s knowledge makers

The Knowledge Makers is an Indigenous student research network that involves TRU faculty, staff, deans and Elders working together to mentor Indigenous students in learning to conduct and publish Indigenous research. It was introduced in 2015 and recognized with a national teaching excellence award in 2019 for its commitment to Indigenous-led research.

Tia Stanley studied her own identity as a knowledge maker in 2020, while completing her Bachelor of Social Work. She grew up away from her ancestral community— the Saulteaux of the Cote First Nation. Through the Knowledge Makers, she learned who she is as an Indigenous woman, producing research on her identity and struggle as someone who is part Indigenous, part settler and part Chinese.

“The money put toward Indigenous students and their ability to bring their lived experience of their Indigenous culture to the academic world increases the wealth of knowledge at TRU,” Stanley says. “It places value on Indigenous ways of learning. It’s about creating space and opportunity for Indigenous students to show what they already know.”

The Knowledge Makers brings together up to 15 Indigenous undergraduate students yearly, each of them publishing a research paper in the Knowledge Makers academic journal, now in its fifth edition. BMO’s awards will help students like Stanley fund their education.

“It’s a space where people can see your potential in a place that’s not typically for you,” says Sandra Bandura, associate director of the All My Relations Research Centre and a Knowledge Makers alum. “One of the most powerful lessons is learning to hold onto your voice in academia and giving you the strength to do that.”

Tomorrow’s health-care workers

When health-care providers understand the community they work with, they bring more insight into their practice to offer safe, culturally appropriate care.

“We know Indigenous people bring a rich diversity and different ways of knowing and being. When we have nurses who understand that, they are better able to integrate and advocate for their patients,” said Rani Srivastava, dean of the School of Nursing.

Tetlichi chose to study nursing at TRU in part because of Indigenous Pathways for Health Careers, which provides tailored academic support. Tetlichi also received the Cherly Zawaduk Rural Award in the fourth year of her nursing degree, a financial gift that helped her relocate to Whitehorse for her practicum.

Briana Tetlichi is a 2020 nursing grad from the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Yukon.

Briana Tetlichi is a 2020 nursing grad from the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Yukon.

“I’d like to say thank you to BMO for offering support to Indigenous students and investing in our success. Being an Indigenous student from a rural community, we’re learning a whole new lifestyle and culture when we go to university,” says Tetlichi.

“I think it will greatly benefit the students and our future workers and leaders. We need more Indigenous representation in all fields, especially health care, to be able to share our perspective and share our reality and get our point of view across, because there is so much work to be done to break down those barriers.”

This donation brings BMO’s contributions to the Limitless campaign to $1.35 million. In 2013, BMO donated $600,000 to support the revitalization of Old Main. Since then, TRU students have started their post-secondary journey on BMO Student Street.

For more on Limitless, visit

Thompson Rivers University campuses are on the traditional lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (Kamloops campus) and the T’exelc (Williams Lake campus) within Secwépemc’ulucw, the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwépemc people. TRU’s region also extends into the territories of the Stat’imc, Nlaka’pamux, Nuxalk, Tsilhqot’in, and Dakelh.


Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson speaking in the legislature Monday, May 10. (Video screen shot)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA calls for rural infrastructure renewal fund

Lorne Doerkson said central parts of rural B.C. devastated by flooding, crumbling infrastructure

(File photo)
Firearms offence at McLeese Lake tree planting camp under RCMP investigation

On May 10 Williams Lake RCMP were called to the camp, located at the 2200 block of Beaver Lake Rd.

Lil Mack has been a member of Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy since its inception. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lil Mack of Williams Lake honoured with BC Achievement Community Award

Mack has been an ever-present, quietly powerful literacy force in Williams Lake for several decades

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) announced Tuesday, May 11 that all washrooms on its Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses will have free menstrual products by September. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
TRU to provide free hygiene products in all washrooms by fall 2021

“By signing the United Way’s Promise campaign, TRU aims to reduce barriers facing some students.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read