THUNDER BAY – One of the messages that continues to resonate across Canada is that for Aboriginal students, education is the key to opening doors to the future. Nishanabe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy has stated, ““Investments in education and literacy are key components in the early stages of a child’s development”.
Speaking on the subject of the new Law School at Lakehead University, Grand Chief Beardy said, “Establishing a law school that is accessible to First Nations is an important investment in the future of Nishnawbe Aski youth and communities,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy, who has championed many education and literacy efforts in the North. “This would encourage our youth to pursue careers giving them the skills to support their communities as they move towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance through business, economic and resource development.”
Today, RBC announced the winners of its 2011 RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth across Canada.
“Education helps lay the groundwork for the future success of Aboriginal youth. By providing financial support, we can help create positive change and prepare them to be our leaders of tomorrow,” said Dale Sturges, national director, RBC Aboriginal Markets. “The RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program helps Aboriginal youth develop the skills they need to obtain meaningful jobs. Canada will benefit from the new ideas and fresh perspectives Aboriginal youth bring to the table.”
Aboriginal youth represent a growing segment of the Canadian population. According to 2006 Census data, the median age of the Aboriginal population is 27, compared to 40 years of age for the non-Aboriginal population. Yet, this segment of the population is less likely to pursue a post-secondary education.
Many barriers, including access to financing, prevent Aboriginal youth from continuing their education and fulfilling their dreams. With the right resources, Aboriginal youth can overcome the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their career aspirations and ultimately improve the quality of life of all Aboriginal peoples by contributing to Canada’s social and economic prosperity.
“The decision to return to University as a mature student was easy in light of my overall career goal, but I knew the ability to continue as a full-time student would be financially challenging,” said Debra Alivisatos, senior negotiator, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada who received the award in 1994. “With the help of the RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program, I had the financial assistance that allowed me to leave my full-time job, further my education and care for my family.”
The 2011 RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program is part of RBC’s overall commitment to support Aboriginal youth at every stage of their educational journey. This year’s recipients are:
- Allie Ferris, Lac la Biche, Alberta (Métis Nation of Alberta)
- Candace Crate, Winnipeg, Manitoba, (Fisher River Cree Nation)
- Diane Bannon, Thunder Bay, Ontario (Fort William First Nation)
- Henry Heavy Shield, Lethbridge, Alberta (Kainaiwa First Nation)
- Jonathon Davidson, Surrey, British Columbia (Lytton First Nation)
- Joshua Bouvier, Turtleford Saskatchewan (Canoe Lake Cree Nation)
- Kenneth McEwen, Lillooet, British Columbia (Bridge River Indian Band)
- Kiana Lewey, Carlingford, New Brunswick (Tobique First Nation)
- Laura Arngna’naaq, Kingston, Ontario (Nunavut Tunngavik)
- Luke Amyotte, Campbell’s Bay, Quebec (Métis Aboriginal Community of Fort-Coulonge)
The annual RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program was launched in 1992 and has awarded over $1.2 million dollars to 108 students in Aboriginal communities across Canada. Each year, 10 scholarships are awarded to students majoring in all disciplines. The program provides $4,000 annually, for a maximum of four years, to selected students pursuing a post-secondary education. These funds can be used to offset the costs of tuition, textbooks, supplies and living expenses during the academic year.
For more information about the RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program, including eligibility criteria, visit www.rbc.com/careers/aboriginal_student_awards. Applications for 2012 will be accepted from December 1, 2011 to February 28, 2012.