By Theresa Majeran
(ANNews) – If you are a serious student of Métis ancestry who needs financial assistance for tuition in order to complete your education, now is the time to submit your online application for a Belcourt Brosseau Métis Award (BBMA); the deadline is March 31.
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. For details visit www.bbma.ca.
Established in 2001 at Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) offices by then-directors of the Canative Housing Corporation, Orval Belcourt, Dr. Herb Belcourt and Georges R. Brosseau Q.C., the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards initiative has given out more than 2000 awards to Métis students attending over 200 different post-secondary programs throughout Alberta and beyond. In all, more than $8 million in awards have been disbursed.
“Awards,” explained Georges Brosseau, “can be as little as $1,000 and as high as $10,000. Recipients are selected on an individual basis; awards are not based on marks alone. We look at the overall individual, providing they meet the criteria of the Awards Panel, which is made up of Métis people. Sometimes an individual is selected because we see that he or she has struggled through difficult times, but remains dedicated to achieving both an education and a successful life. People aren’t refused because they don’t have high marks; we base our decisions on the whole person and are very cognizant that they sometimes don’t have opportunities. We try to provide the opportunity that many of our young students need – what they do with it will determine their future.”
The awards, he added, were created “to uplift our people so they can succeed in the world; to do this they need to be educated. Education is the key to success and therefore we are pushing as hard as we can to give out as many awards as we can each year.”
The BBMA initiative continues to meet its four goals and its objectives, which include, “helping students connect with their culture and each other as past recipients; 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 program objectives include, “showcasing success stories within the Métis community and increasing awareness of the BBMA 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.”
Graduates and awards recipients often comment on their educational pursuits and their awards experiences, as did Daniel Barker-Tremblay, who hails from the small northern town of Lac La Biche. He is going to be studying broadcast journalism at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. “I’m speechless. This is better than winning the lottery, in my mind,” said Barker-Tremblay. I want to do my internship at APTN, but my ultimate goal is to become the nation’s first-ever Indigenous hockey broadcaster.
“It’s more of a motivation for me to do extraordinarily well in my program,” said Barker-Tremblay. “At the end of the day, I just want to motivate Métis and all indigenous young adults and youth — boys and girls, and children of all ages — to say, ‘Well, if I can do this, so can you’.”
Many students also express their gratitude in a thank you letter to the BBMA panel and Founders like this one from Tim Penton in his second year in the University of Alberta’s Aboriginal Teacher Program (ATEP).
Tim writes, “My family also thanks you. This is not only a dream for me, but also for my wife and children. My dream is not only to obtain my education degree and to teach, but also to become more deeply connected with the Métis community here and throughout the province. This part of my dream has already been realized. The relationships I have formed with other Métis citizens over the past year and a half have meant so much to me and especially to my daughter. She will be turning 7 next week, and I am so happy that through my example and that of others within our Nation, she will grow up to be a proud Métis woman and proud of her culture and people. Thank you again for your very generous support.”
Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) has been in partnership with the BBMA for 20 years and there has been a true enhancement and strengthening of the Métis community through BBMA educational funding program. The BBMA fund has grown over time with the ongoing donor and sponsor support.
Thanks to donors like Syncrude Canada the BBMA endowment fund will be funding more Métis students each year. “It is great to see such success being created with these students and Syncrude is proud to be a contributor to this fund that is making a difference in people’s lives and communities,” says Kara Flynn, Vice President, Government & Public Affairs.
If you are a Métis student needing help to pay your tuition, apply to the BBMAs for studies beginning after August 2021. The application is now open online at www.bbma.ca. March 31 is the Deadline.