By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – BBMAs are for serious students of Métis ancestry who need financial assistance for tuition in order to complete their education. If you fit that description, now is the time to submit your online application for a Belcourt Brosseau Métis Award (BBMA); the deadline is March 31.
To be eligible for the BBMA awards, you must:
- be Métis from the Métis Nation of Alberta or a Métis Settlement in Alberta
- be an Alberta Resident with Canadian citizenship
- be studying in an eligible program at an eligible post-secondary institution
Applicants are evaluated on a number of criteria, including but not limited to; likelihood of connection to their Métis community, improved opportunities through education, financial need, and, personal circumstances.
“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 in a holistic way, providing they meet the criteria of the awards Panel, which is made up of Metis 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 are not 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.”
Since being created in 2001, the award initiative has given out more than 2000 awards to over 1,500 Métis students attending more than 200 different post-secondary programs throughout Alberta and beyond.
In all, more than $9 million in awards have been disbursed.
These awards are one of the largest non-governmental sources of funding for Métis students in Canada.
“I didn’t believe that I belonged in post-secondary and I definitely never thought I would graduate from university,” 2015 BBMA recipient, Connor Kerr, Manager of Indigenous Relations and Supports at NorQuest College, said of the awards. “I didn’t believe in reaching out … and I didn’t really think about the value of community. I was young and dumb and lost in searching for my place.
“Then I heard about the BBMAs and I put in an application — somehow it got approved.”
“By receiving that award as a student, it helped validate who I was and showed that I meant something. It made me confident in being a Métis person on campus,” added Kerr.
“But here’s the really cool thing about being Métis: you are descended from revolutionaries and rebels, strong matriarchal leaders, and people who kept culture, language and most importantly, the dream of a better future for generations of Métis people.”
Noelle Antonsen, a past award recipient and midwifery student, said of her journey with BBMA, “Midwifery students spend over half of their degree on placements all over Alberta. While on placement we must have a reliable vehicle, we have to purchase medical supplies, we have to relocate every few months for our next placement, and we have to follow the on-call schedule of registered mid-wives.”
“Due to the cost associated with this, I would be unable to continue my studies without the help of the BBMA,” explained Antonsen.
“Currently, Indigenous people in Canada experience poorer health outcomes, especially when it comes to reproductive healthcare, pregnancy, and birth — this is frequently justified by these groups being categorized as high-risk. I find this classification short-sighted, especially considering out knowledge of the socio-economic determinate of health.”
“I believe that it is important for Métis people to become educated and to proudly share who we are,” she concluded.
If you are a Métis student needing help to pay your tuition apply to the BBMAs for studies beginning in the 2022-23 academic year. The application is now open online at www.bbma.ca. March 31 is the Deadline.