by John Copley
(ANNews) – The Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards (BBMA) gala will take place at the Edmonton Inn and Conference Centre at 11834 Kingsway in Edmonton on Saturday, September 22, 2018. If you are a serious Métis student who needs financial assistance in order to begin or complete your education, now is the time to get your application in; the deadline is March 31. Last year’s event saw nearly 300 applications arrive by deadline date; more than 150 students received an award.
“We’re expecting a large number of applications again this year so it would be a good idea to get yours in as soon as possible,” assured BBMA Communications Coordinator Theresa Majeran, noting that this year’s recipients would qualify for educational awards.
To qualify for an award BBMA applicants must be an Alberta Métis (any age), have a financial need that prevents them from attaining a post-secondary education on their own and have a connection to their Métis community. Applicants are evaluated on a number of criteria, including but not limited to: likelihood of improved opportunities through education, connection to their Métis community, financial need, and personal circumstances. Two current references are also required. BBMA awards range from $1,000 to $10,000 for the applicant’s current school year and are for tuition and fees only. Students can apply each school year for an award.
The September 22 awards gala and banquet is the highlight of the year for the organization, which has been celebrating the achievements of deserving Métis students by providing award funding that will enable each recipient to continue his or her post-secondary education in the college, university or trades program campus of their choice.
The annual BBMA awards ceremony, noted Majeran, has four main goals: “helping students connect with their culture and each other as alumni; providing a sense of identity to enhance success rates in both educational endeavours and subsequent careers; offering our sponsors the opportunity to network and engage with recipients for future employment opportunities and encouraging corporate Alberta to become more involved.”
Other objectives include “showcasing success stories within the Métis community and increasing awareness of the BBMA program among potential applicants and sponsors and through honouring the educational achievements of Métis students in their journey to be part of Alberta’s strong economic future.”
Since its inception in 2001 more than 1500 awards have been provided to help Métis people with an opportunity to complete their varied educational goals and realize their full potential.
During the past 17 years the organization, in partnership with the Edmonton Community Foundation, has presented Métis learners with awards totalling more than $6.7 million dollars.
“Thanks to the ongoing support of our many partners,” noted Majeran, “Alberta’s Métis students are breaking new ground and setting new precedents as they achieve their educational goals and move into the next phase of life. Many of our graduates have become leaders in their communities and their province. BBMA awards recipients have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, veterinarians, and much more. Our graduates are also getting the recognition they deserve from many of our sponsor organizations, who not only hire them but also continue to support this worthy initiative.”
Majeran noted that in 2016 statistics indicated that more than “96 per cent of award recipients completed their funded year” of studies, adding that “hundreds of our students are now employed across the province in all professions. With a strong foundation of education, former BBMA students are now contributing to their communities and their professions; their success also provides role models for their communities and mentorship for their peers.”
Established in 2001 at the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) offices by then-directors of the Canative Housing Corporation, Orval Belcourt, Dr. Herb Belcourt (deceased) and Georges R. Brosseau Q.C., the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards initiative has awarded more than 1500 awards to more than 1100 Metis learners in more than 200 different post-secondary programs throughout Alberta.
The Founder’s Vision when establishing the endowment was “to help Métis Albertans realize self-sufficiency through post-secondary education and skills development.”
The BBMA Panel comprises Métis Albertans who share the vision of the three Founders and are committed to maintaining and developing the program’s enduring legacy. Awards Panel members Kathryn Brosseau (Chairperson), Orval Belcourt (Founder), Georges Brosseau Q.C. (Founder), Harold Robinson and Dr. John Brosseau are joined by three new Panel members this year as Lisa Higgerty, Brenda Bourque-Stratichuk and 2004-2006 BBMA Recipient Michelle Poirier join the Panel.
Each year past and present recipients, their families, the Métis community, and corporate sponsors are invited to the annual BBMA Awards Gala, a cultural celebration that honours students and their ongoing success.
“The BBMA Panel and Edmonton Community Foundation would like to acknowledge and thank the many long-time sponsors who’ve shown ongoing commitment as we make this journey together,” said Majeran. “These include such long-time sponsors as Enbridge, Shell, Scotiabank, Syncrude, Alberta Indigenous Relations and many others. We’d also like to thank one of our newest partners, the City of Edmonton. We appreciate and are very grateful for all the support we receive from individuals, companies, corporations and governments each and every year.”
BBMA Chairperson, Kathryn Brosseau, credited the donors and sponsors for the success of the program, noting: “The donors help grow our endowment fund, which enables us to fund more students with higher awards; the sponsors also provide the funding for our annual awards presentations and evening gala event, which allows us to bring students from across Alberta to Edmonton to receive their Métis Sash and meet with their larger Métis family.”
The Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) has been a partner with the BBMA for 17 years, about a decade after ECF began working to create and maintain a strong, vibrant community by acting as a bridge between donors’ wishes and the needs of charities in the greater Edmonton area. By pooling contributions from individuals and organizations, ECF creates permanent endowment funds that provide long-term support for a wide range of local charitable organizations and causes, while helping donors maximize the impact of their charitable giving. To date the Foundation has allocated more than $190 million to enhance and strengthen the community.
Questions about the awards program, the BBMA gala or the application process can be directed to Communications Coordinator Theresa Majeran at 780-977-5515 or by email to [email protected].