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Indigenous youth chosen for scholarships become role models for their communities

Cenovus Classroom

June 2019 - At Cenovus, we believe in supporting education and training for youth in Indigenous communities where we live and work. That’s why we work with Indspire to offer scholarships for Indigenous students who are pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certified trade program.

For the 2018-2019 school year, we awarded 40 scholarships to students in western Canada. The recipients are great examples of Indigenous youth who are determined to reach their goals and care about giving back to their communities.

By pursing their post secondary education, the students have become role models to other Indigenous youth. They are studying a diverse range of programs including Indigenous administration and governance, educational assistant, power engineering, Indigenous education, natural resources technology and nursing. Over the past six years, we’ve awarded over 130 scholarships to Indigenous students.

Here are some thoughts from our 2018-19 recipients:

Stephen McDonald (Grande Prairie Regional College)

Stephen McDonald
Stephen McDonald

“I often think of my late grandparents. I would help my grandma harvest plants, and my grandpa used to get very emotional when he talked about not having a chance to go to school,” says Stephen MacDonald, a second-year student in the Educational Assistant’s Certificate program at Grande Prairie Regional College. “If it wasn’t for those family and cultural connections, I don’t know where I’d be today,” he adds.

Stephen, a member of the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada, studies remotely via video conference, which allows him to stay living in his hometown of Grande Cache. "By doing this, I can continue being involved with my family and community while working on my education.”

His goal is to give back to the community that is supporting him through his studies.

“I hope to raise awareness and understanding of the language, culture, and history for the youth in my community. I’m very fortunate to have the chance to learn a lot of things about my culture, and this is something I hope to be able to share with my younger relatives. My late grandparents would be so happy to see this, thinking…I hope he keeps it up.”

Kate Courtorielle (University of Alberta)

Kate Courtourielle
Kate Courtorielle

When Kate swapped her familiar life on the Cold Lake First Nations reserve in northeastern Alberta with a dorm room at the University of Alberta in Edmonton last September, she embarked on a new life that came with its own set of challenges: New learning opportunities, new friends and – new bills. Kate is a first-time recipient of the Cenovus Indigenous Scholarship, and thanks in part to this bursary, she has managed to save up for her education. She’s using the scholarship money towards her living expenses on campus.

“This scholarship has lessened the financial burden on my parents and me,” says Kate. “I feel very relieved and am grateful for this scholarship. I spent an entire summer working and saving up money for school, and it was still not enough. This bursary gave me hope that I’ll be able to focus on my studies while enjoying university life.”

Kate has settled well into her first year of anthropology, psychology and sociology – with fewer financial worries to distract her from her studies or the fun that’s life on campus.