Elijah Harper Educational Fund

As with all other institutions of Christian higher education, tuition scholarships are a significant draw for students wanting to study. This is even truer for Indigenous students for various reasons including the fact that many, though not all, band councils are leery of Christian education. It is also the case that Indigenous students are believed to be able to access funds from their bands or from federal government educational support programs. While some are, the vast majority cannot.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable persons in Canada’s recent history with Indigenous people is Elijah Harper. A Cree man from Manitoba, Elijah is recognized for his significant influence in the affairs of Canadian politics. What many people do not know, however, is that Elijah was a man of deep faith in Christ – a faith instilled in him by his father, Alan B. Harper, a pastor of over fifty years. He was also deeply committed to the need for Indigenous education, including theological education. He, like another Cree man, understood that “Education is the New Buffalo”, a reference to that which has the capacity to provide for our needs and ensure our survival.

The fund will be used to assist students in financing their graduate and post-graduate studies through merit-based scholarships, and will be offered in two ways. First, direct scholarships will be made from what it is hoped would be an annually renewed pool of money. Secondly, a campaign to create an endowed fund from which the interest would be annually made available to scholarship students will be created. Both the annual and endowed fund will be stewarded and awards made by a committee consisting of members of the Board, faculty, and graduates.

A campaign is to be held June 5, 2019 at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, with co-chairs for the that evening to include former Grand Chief of Alberta, Joe Dion, a member of the IP board, and two members of the wider Christian business and financial community to be named shortly.

The evening’s program will highlight the need for the fund and present current students, graduates, and faculty. Each will talk about their perspectives on the impact of NAIITS’ programs.