Rotary Club of Bowmanville, ON, Launches First Nations Initiative
In November 2008 the Hon Paul Martin was quoted as saying “Aboriginal Canadians do every bit as well as other Canadians, depending on their level of education……”
The single most important thing you can do to enable aboriginal Canadians to participate in everything society has to offer is education….. but because the high school dropout rate is so much greater for aboriginals, you have to give them the incentive to stay in school, and find the skills that will help them later in life”.
With this in mind the Rotary Club of Bowmanville decided to see if we could begin a bursary program for First Nations students.
Our contact within the First Nations community was the Matawa First Nations Management Team and subsequently their Education Director, Mr. Murray Waboose. This organization oversees ten(10) First Nations Communities within north-central Ontario, five(5) of which are remote fly-in communities.
The role of the Matawa Educational Department is to support educational initiatives that result in school improvements and that positively impact on the quality of education provided for the students. Supporting local education authorities and networking with Aboriginal organizations, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Provincial Ministry of Education, School Boards, Post Secondary, Secondary and Elementary institutions is an important responsibility of the Matawa Education Department.
Bowmanville Rotary’s role was to provide financial assistance for awards and bursaries for students to encourage them to further their education.
We offered them $4000 initially with the proviso that they should decide just how this money should be distributed. They set up a committee of teachers and principals who set out the following.:
Grades K-4 — $500 Class Prize
Each class, working collaboratively. To write a legend on community helpers or helping one another. The class will then illustrate the legend and make it into a book. Teachers to follow the Writing Curriculum for Ontario for their grade levels.
Grades 5-8 — $500 to be divided into three prizes
Students to write a 300 word essay on the following:
– retell a traditional legend in their own words
– retell a story from their own community.
– Community Pride write about all the positive things about their own community
Youth Leadership Award $500
To the student who has shown leadership in many areas including mentorship, and volunteering with community events.
Personal Achievement $500
To the Secondary student who, through perseverance, has realized achievements in athletics, academics, the arts or any other area that demonstrates what can be accomplished through hard work and determination.
2x $1000.00…. 1 College/1 University.
These two awards are for post-secondary students who have given back to a First Nations
Community and are planning to continue to do so on the completion of their studies.
In can be noted that the College Award this year has gone to a young woman who is entering Nursing and the University Award has gone to a young woman who has just graduated in Medicine and is in her first year residency in Family Medicine