By Jinsh Rayaroth
Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative
It’s another proud moment for Moosonee and Kirkland Lake as two students win prestigious scholarships.
When the 20 recipients of the RBC Future Launch Aboriginal Youth Scholarships were announced on June 15, 17-year-old Sparrow Couchie of Moosonee and Mayheve Clara Rondeau of Kirkland Lake were among them. The 20 winners were selected from a pool of nearly 800 people.
The scholarship is worth up to $10,000 per year and up to four years.
Sparrow Couchie grew up in North Bay, then in Moosonee.
“I was ecstatic and shocked to immediately walk out of class to Facetimer my parents,” said Couchie, who is of mixed race.
A very happy and proud Couchie also felt honored and grateful to have won this award. She is preparing to study business administration at Laurentian University in Sudbury this fall.
“It was an emotional moment for my family and me because it was a huge financial relief,” Couchie said.
RBC has offered this scholarship since 1992 and has so far awarded more than $1.9 million to 218 Indigenous students like Couchie. The award is designed for students who demonstrate strong academic performance and community involvement. It also helps reduce barriers to post-secondary education and training for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students across Canada.
Thinking of other seekers in her community, Couchie thinks “people have so much potential that they don’t realize it’s within themselves.” However, she said a quote taped on a poster, “Whether you think you can or not, you’re right”, from her math teacher’s class, inspired her immensely to work towards her goal.
Mayheve Clara Rondeau of Kirkland Lake is another local scholarship recipient. She is a member of the Moose Cree First Nation and will be attending law school at the University of Victoria this fall.
Rondeau was recently selected for an internship at the Senate of Canada this summer. She participated in the Ontario **>Indigenous
Rondeau graduated with a degree in Human Kinetics this fall and is a former member of the University of Ottawa varsity swim team.
“I’m passionate about mentoring incoming and outgoing Indigenous students and helping to build community,” Rondeau said in her memoir.
This ambitious student also wants to strengthen her community.
“One of my goals is to bring my knowledge from law school to Treaty 9 (the James Bay Treaty) and learn how to strengthen our governance systems,” she said.
The success stories of these young people could inspire many more students who face obstacles in completing their studies. According to Indigenous Services Canada’s Quality Education Report, 44% of Aboriginal youth between the ages of 18 and 24 have completed high school, compared to
88% for the other candidates.
Wanda Wuttunee, editor of the Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development, is on the award’s steering committee.
“Indigenous youth sometimes face barriers to success in the education system, so it’s so important to have a program that eases financial stress, champions their accomplishments, and supports well-being,” Wuttunee said in a statement. Press release.
Despite these successes, many Aboriginal students still struggle to continue their education due to their poor financial situation. But instead of giving up on your dreams, Couchie asks them to “make a plan for yourself, make sure that’s what you really want in life, and that you’re still working towards something.”
Jinsh Rayaroth is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works at TIMMINSTODAY.COM. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive funding from the LJI government.
Add your voice
Is there more to this story? We’d love to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Make your voice heard on our contribution page.