Black Lives Matter Fredericton established a new set of bursaries for Black students attending St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick who are in financial need.
The Mary Louise McCarthy-Brandt Bursaries, valued at $500 per student, will be available at STU and UNB for the next 10 years starting next academic year. The funding came from community organizations that responded to Black Lives Matter’s calls to action.
Husoni Raymond, an organizer from Black Lives Matter Fredericton and former STU Students’ Union president, said Black students face several barriers in getting a post-secondary education. One of those barriers, he said, is financial need.
“We saw it fit to provide some sort of financial support for Black students in financial need to increase access to post-secondary education, which will empower them to participate in all aspects of society,” said Raymond.
He said historical factors like systemic racism have contributed to Canada’s racial income gap. According to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study from 2019, racial minorities earned between 59 and 78 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
Employers often see Black people as less qualified when applying for higher-paying jobs, said Raymond. It’s a reality many have faced due to the lasting effects of segregation and slavery, he said. Raymond hopes the money can help Black students with anything they may need.
“It’s not a lot of money,” said Raymond. “But it could be the difference between someone being able to have all the books they need for a semester or being able to pay rent for a month or buy groceries.”
Dionne Izzard, STU’s director of advancement, said the organization approached the university in September 2020 to open a dialogue about the bursaries. She said when the administration sees an opportunity to help students financially, they want to be part of it.
Izzard said this is the first bursary STU has offered that is exclusive to Black students and she sees it as a way to commemorate accomplishments within the Black community.
“The work that the Black Lives Matter Fredericton chapter is doing is wonderful,” said Izzard. “They’ve created a voice in our community that wasn’t there before and that has extended into supporting our Black students.”
Sydona Chandon, a third-year criminology and communications student at STU, said having a bursary focused on helping Black university students makes a “world of difference.” She said she is glad Black Lives Matter Fredericton recognized a need in the community to create the bursaries.
As the vice-president of STU’s Black Students’ Association, Chandon said Black representation on university campuses is important since most of New Brunswick’s population is predominantly white. She hopes the bursaries will break “historical barriers” and promote inclusivity.
“When other Black students enter these universities, they will actually feel that they are catered to as a student with financial needs, just like any other,” said Chandon.
“I hope universities will see and understand that this is something that needs to be implemented and funded for years to come.”