Posted: December 28, 2021 by Shel Zolkewich in Community stories, Brian McIvor, Calls to Action #92, Canada, Chartered Professional Accountant, CPA, ILC, Indigenous ancestry, Indigenous business, Indigenous Business Student Bursary, Indigenous Leadership Circle, Indigenous Peoples, Manitoba, post-secondary, Reconciliation, St. Theresa Point First Nation, Thelma Mbang, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), University of Manitoba
Indigenous Business Student Bursary: An investment in success
Logan Mason has a soft spot for Chopin and Beethoven. The 19-year-old counts playing the piano as one of his hobbies and hopes to pick up the violin and learn a little photography in the future. It’s these pursuits that help him navigate his second year at the University of Manitoba, working toward a designation to be a Chartered Professional Accountant. And he’s also thankful for a little help from Assiniboine Credit Union’s (ACU) Indigenous Business Student Bursary.
Each year, ACU awards four bursaries of $2,000 each to students of Indigenous ancestry who are studying business at a post-secondary school in Manitoba. Logan’s bursary couldn’t have come at a better time. The member of St. Theresa Point First Nation lost his mother this summer.
“I’ve lost a support in my life, both financially and mentally,” Logan said. “This award helped me even more by giving me more of a peace of mind financially, and it serves as a reminder and encouragement for me to pursue my education further as my mother would’ve wanted me to, especially during the lowest time of my life. It was essentially a light in a dark place for me.”
Bursaries for Indigenous business students
The bursary program was developed in 2018 in response to Calls to Action #92 (ensuring that Indigenous peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and educational opportunities in the corporate sector) as outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), explained Thelma Mbang, People Solutions Business Partner with ACU.
“The bursary program outlines the role of businesses in creating economic and employment opportunities for Indigenous peoples through access to jobs, training and education opportunities,” she said. To date, ACU has awarded 15 bursaries under the program.
By providing bursaries that target business students, ACU hopes to contribute and invest in raising a future generation of individuals who will have careers within the financial sector and go on to contribute to their community. ACU also hopes to inspire other corporate organizations to respond to the TRC’s Calls to Action.
“By investing in the students, ACU supports access to education through its efforts to alleviate the associated financial burden of higher education,” Thelma continued. “The students can also take part in ACU’s summer work program which introduces them to different roles at ACU. This provides them with the opportunity to learn and acquire the skills required to be successful in a financial institution.”
How bursaries are awarded
Candidates for the program are assessed based on their academic performance, financial need and involvement in the community. All applications go through a review process that involves members of ACU’s leadership team, Indigenous Leadership Circle (ILC) and People Solutions team.
“Each individual of the selection committee independently reviews all the applications and chooses their top candidates,” said Brian McIvor, Regent Branch Manager and member of the ILC committee. “A group meeting is then held to review each of the picks and the rationale behind their selections.”
The bursaries provide extra support for young Indigenous people who are on the path to post-secondary education.
“The worries of being successful in school and often having to relocate from their home communities can be stressful in itself,” Brian explained. “Having financial support from ACU will help the student maintain their focus on their studies and will help them be successful.”
More than financial support
Logan plans to return to his First Nation to serve as a much-needed Chartered Professional Accountant, a service that is lacking in the community. He believes the bursary from ACU goes well beyond a deposit into his bank account.
“I believe that ACU’s bursary is much more than financial support,” Logan said. “I believe it is essentially encouragement towards an underserved and not sufficiently supported populace. As in my case, it gave me—as an Indigenous student—the opportunity to succeed in my life goals. I have to thank ACU for giving me this opportunity.”
The deadline to apply for ACU’s Indigenous Business Student Bursary program is January 31, 2023. We invite students who meet the following criteria to apply:
- Indigenous ancestry
- Enrolled in a post-secondary business program in Manitoba
- Taking a minimum of three courses
- Good academic performance
- Demonstrated financial need
- Involved in the community
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