Inaugural White Thunderbird Man Bursary Awarded
March 19, 2012
The University of Winnipegs Waapshki Pinaysee Inini White Thunderbird Man Bursary was awarded to its inaugural recipient Shauna Fontaine.President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lloyd Axworthy and his wife Ms. Denise Ommanney donated funds to establish the award in recognition of the day, in July 2010, when Dr. Axworthy became an honourary member of Sagkeeng First Nation and was given the name Waapshki Pinaysee Ininiin a ceremony.
Fontaine is a full time student currently in her third year of a bachelor of arts with a double major in Indigenous Studies and history. In addition to being a full-time student Fontaine is a single mother of three who serves on the Aboriginal Student Council/University of Winnipeg Student Association, which is an elected position.
Fontaine decided to go back to school after working as a manager in a footwear store and wanting to make a difference, I was working with Aboriginal clients who were dealing with health issues that put them in a high need - high risk category, she explains. Many Aboriginal clients do not have access to proper footwear in their own communities, which made me realize that this is not only a health issue but a treaty-right.
Her motivation comes from her late mother who was working on her masters degree. Fontaine is dedicated to making a difference and being an example for her children and her family, in encouraging her older sister to return to university. Fontaine plans to continue her studies, and obtain an Indigenous Governance masters degree and a PhD in history and teach at a University one day.
"I am extremely pleased and happy for Shauna and I wish her continued success in her educational goals, said Donavan Fontaine, Chief of Sagkeeng First Nation. This scholarship is an investment in First Nation youth and education. Combined, these two areas hold the most promise for our people. On behalf of my community I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Axworthy and Ms. Ommanney. Kitchi miigwetch."
Waapshki Pinaysee Inini White Thunderbird Man Bursary is worth $2,000 annually and awarded to a Sagkeeng First Nation full-time student pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies. If there are no eligible full-time students who apply, then a $1,000 bursary will be available to a part-time student. The bursary is part of the Opportunity Fund, a University of Winnipeg initiative that helps ensure economic circumstances are not a barrier to higher education and opportunities.
The University of Winnipeg continues to partner with Sagkeeng First Nation and other Indigenous communities across the province to ensure that post-secondary education is accessible to all regardless of economic circumstances.
Sagkeeng First Nation is located 120 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg on the shore of Lake Winnipeg and is an Anishinaabe First Nation. Sagkeeng has a population of approximately 3,000 people.