Turtle Spirit Pathway Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students


The Turtle Spirit Pathway Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students assists Indigenous students who are entering the U of A and who have demonstrated financial challenges and barriers to attending university. Through the program, students will be considered for up to $8,000 per year in award funding. Up to 20 new students per year will qualify for the award. 

Naming of Award

The naming of the award was developed in consultation with Elders in-residence at the University’s First Peoples' House. In addition to its reference to Turtle Island, what some Indigenous people refer to as North America1, the turtle is honoured for the values it represents. The turtle moves forward slowly, but with intent and a singular goal. The spirit of the turtle represents truth, patience, determination, endurance, and the importance of being “slow and steady” in one’s approach.

In decision-making, an Indigenous person often takes into account the following considerations: thinking back seven generations and what our ancestors would expect of us and looking forward seven generations to consider how a decision made today would impact them. The turtle symbolizes some of the values that result from taking our time in making a decision: consideration, caring, sharing, kindness, forgiveness, support, and comfort. 


Elder Francis Whiskeyjack, Saddle Lake First Nation 
Elder Elsey Gauthier, Saddle Lake First Nation

Access Award Program Working Group - Indigenous Subcommittee 
Fiona Halbert, Assistant Registrar, Student Financial Support
Brett Buchanan, Team Lead, Student Financial Support
Lindsay Moores, Financial Aid Coordinator, Student Financial Support 
Trevor Phillips, Métis, Manager of Indigenous Recruitment
Jessie Letendre, Métis, Acting Director, First Peoples’ House

1Turtle Island 2021, Canadian Encyclopedia, accessed October 21, 2021.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria includes the following:

  • Admissible to an undergraduate direct-entry program without having completed any post-secondary coursework OR currently enrolled in the U of A Transition Year Program without having completed prior coursework at the U of A.
  • Self-declaration as Indigenous, with accompanying documentation. Documentation requirements include one of the following: 
    • A certified copy of a Status card from the Government of Canada.
    • A certified copy of a Métis membership card from one of the five Métis Provincial Affiliates;
    • Métis Nation of Alberta, Métis Nation of Ontario, Manitoba Métis Federation, Métis Nation Saskatchewan, Métis Nation British Columbia. Additionally, the student may present a membership card for the Métis Settlements General Council.
    • A certified copy of a Nunavut Trust Certificate card.
    • Documentation that an ancestor’s name has been entered 1) in the Indian Register according to the Indian Act, or 2) on the band list of an individual band, or 3) as beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement or other claim regions such as Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and Inuvialuit.
    • Written confirmation of Indigenous identity from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada or Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
    • Written confirmation of membership by a band council which has enacted its own band membership code.
  • Entrance to the U of A without having completed any post-secondary coursework.
  • Demonstration of financial challenges and barriers to attending university.

What do you need for the Turtle Spirit Pathway Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students application? 

Using the Medicine Wheel as a guide, we are interested in learning more about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state in this application. As part of the award application, students will be asked to answer both short and long answer questions.  

  • Description of life circumstance: These short answer questions will provide us a brief overview of your current life circumstances and physical state.
  • Education goals and challenges: This section will focus more on your mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. These long answer questions will highlight your personal journey, education goals, and provide more detail about the relevant financial and life circumstance challenges you may be facing.
  • Support reference: The support reference provides us with an additional perspective on who you are as an individual from someone who is supportive of you. Your reference will not be required to submit a reference at the time of application submission, but will be contacted by the University of Alberta at a later date if a reference is needed.

Tips for Applying

Consider the turtle spirit as you work on your application.

Take a “Slow and Steady” Approach
  • Apply early! This application requires thoughtful reflection and should not be rushed. We encourage you to work on your application over a few days/weeks.
  • Ensure you carefully read all sections of the application and complete them to the best of your ability.
Be True to Yourself
  • Tell us about your journey and put things in your own words. We want to know more about who you are and where you want to go. 
  • Be clear and concise in your written responses. Provide specific examples where you can.
Tips for Completing the Application
  • Work on your application in a document outside of the scholarship application form to take advantage of spelling and grammar correction software and avoid technical problems in the application. 
  • Save your application often! Frequently saving will help ensure you maintain your application information and progress.
  • Choose a support reference who has firsthand knowledge of your educational goals and life circumstances.
  • If you encounter technical issues or have questions about the application, email awards@ualberta.ca.

How to Apply

  1. Apply for admission to your desired program to receive a CCID and password to apply for scholarships.  Please note that it can take 2-3 business days for a CCID to be generated.
  2. Apply online using the scholarship application form: Apply for Awards.
  3. You can also access the scholarship application form via Bear Tracks.
If you have a permanent disability and need accessibility support to complete your application, learn more and apply early for applicant accommodations, or contact dosdean@ualberta.ca for assistance.

Application Deadline

Applications open October 1 and close February 15 with offers being made beginning in mid-April.