A scholarship award for Alberta Métis students has passed a $1-million milestone. The Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards (BBMA) has been handing out awards since 2001. Each year the award supports students with up to $10,000 for post-secondary education.
The cash is through endowment fund through the Edmonton Community Foundation – the largest source of non-governmental money for Métis students in Canada.
Tina Thomas, Edmonton Community Foundation’s CEO, announced that they had reached their million dollar goal at the BBMA celebration this September.
“This milestone will have a tremendous impact, not only on the nearly 300 Métis students receiving the awards this year but also on the communities they are connected to.” Thomas says. “What an amazing investment that will last for generations to come.”
One million dollars given out
Since 2001, the BBMA has provided more than $11 million in over 2,000 awards to over 1,500 Métis Albertans. The fund, which had an initial endowment of $13 million, continues to grow thanks to contributions from individual and corporate donors.
“Today, our principal investment is over $20 million, and our student awards average is increasing,” BBMA co-founder Orval Belcourt says. “Education is vital, and I am so pleased to see our Métis people placing a higher priority on learning.”
Jeff Glover is one of the students who qualified for a BBMA this year. “When I found out I had qualified for this funding, it resolved a huge weight from my life that at times had felt physically oppressive. I knew then that I’d get through my second year, things would be ok for me and my girls.”
Cole Burns a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta participated in the scholarship program in 2014. Burns is an environmental scientist who works in the private sector.
“I received three scholarships throughout my undergrad,” says Burns. He volunteers during the BBMA awards to help give back to his community. “I would credit as being instrumental in my post-secondary academic career. Without the help I would have been in signifying debt or had to work part time where my grades would have suffered,” he says.
Burns also credits the scholarship with giving him a heighted sense of his identity. The award ceremonies feature speakers and provide information about Métis culture.
Burns says representation is so important “Being Metis has taught me the importance of intersectionality. Just because I am white-passing doesn’t mean I am not connected to this rich cultural community.”
“Knowledge is a fire of education,” says BBMA co-founder Georges Brosseau in a press release. “We would like all members of the Métis family to be able to light their candles against that fire, so all can have a brighter future.”
Applications for the 2023 BBMA open January 1, 2023, with a deadline of March 31, 2023. Students can apply at www.bbma.ca.