Freedom International School (FIS) in Winnipeg is excited to be receiving government funding one year earlier than expected. 

The school started up in 2018. It is a Christ-centered independent school specifically geared towards newcomers to Canada. 

"We had a three-year waitlist that we had to follow, which is standard procedure in the province of Manitoba. We were told we had to wait three years for any grant funding from the government to run our school," says Francine Wiebe, the principal at FIS.

Just before the end of 2020, Wiebe was told the funding would come in sooner. 

"I received an email from Kelvin Goertzen saying, 'Just so you know we have amended the public schools' act and it reduces the wait period for independent schools to be eligible to receive funding from three years to two years.'"

This was good news for Wiebe and the school, as they rely heavily on sponsors to keep their doors open.

"Typically we receive $500 a student for the school year or $50/month for tuition. What this [new government funding] does is it allows us to not have to raise as many funds every year," she says.

All private schools get $5,800 per student from the government. It costs roughly $15,000 to educate each student per year. 

As per their mandate, FIS looks to help students and families who may be escaping war-torn countries or previously been refugees, therefore offering schooling at a much lower cost than typical independent schools.

"God's been very faithful. Some small businesses in Winnipeg and individuals have really cared for us a lot. They've given us substantial donations to help us get through these tough times. As well as Winnipeg Foundation and United Way. We've had a lot of support."

Much of the schooling over the past year has been done online for FIS, which has posed a few difficulties for students learning a new language or trying to play catch-up. 

"Since November 23 everyone has been healthy. We haven't had any positive [COVID] cases connected to the school since before Christmas."

Since they received the funding earlier than expected, FIS will have an additional 40 spots for students come September.