SYDNEY, NS — Mairi Denny, a second-year student at Cape Breton University, has been named one of 20 recipients of the RBC Aboriginal Youth Bursary of $10,000 per year.
“When I graduate from Cape Breton University, I plan to pursue law school,” Denny said in a press release.
“By becoming a lawyer, I believe I can be part of a solution to help right the injustices that are happening across Canada and help decolonize the system that is against minorities like me. My goal is to work with Indigenous communities, including my own, and provide them with legal support when they need justice.
Denny is entering the second year of the Bachelor of Arts program at Cape Breton University.
Along with a solid education, the 18-year-old has spent the past few years volunteering and contributing to her Mi’kmaq community of Eskasoni First Nation: dancing with the Eskasoni NADACA Boys and Girls Club, teaching snowboarding as part of the Unama’ki Riders program. , and tutoring of college students.
“I aim to be a role model for the youth of my Mi’kmaq community by being active and involved in healthy hobbies and activities that encourage and show others that it is best to stay on the path away substances such as alcohol and drugs,” she said.
Nearly 800 Indigenous youth from across Canada were considered for the annual award, which is now in its 30th year and recognizes both excellent academic achievement and community involvement.
The scholarship (up to four years) is designed to help reduce barriers to post-secondary education and training for young Indigenous Canadians.
According to Indigenous Services Canada’s Quality Education Report, only 44% of young Aboriginal people (18 to 24 years old) have completed high school, compared to 88% for other Canadians. Access to post-secondary education and training is often limited.
Wanda Wuttunee, editor of the Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development and retired professor from the University of Manitoba, 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.
“I commend RBC for making room for Indigenous achievement.