Every year, NWAC coordinates the Helen Bassett Commemorative Award granted to four young Aboriginal women in the amount of $1,000 each. The awards are made possible by the generous donation of Helen Bassett. Helen Bassett was an Ontario artist and an amazing woman who tried to make a difference as an individual and engage the government into fair solutions to Aboriginal land claim issues.
After befriending an Aboriginal artist and learning through him about the plight of Aboriginal people, Ms. Bassett became passionate about the issue and had special concern for the advancement of Aboriginal women. In her selflessness, she specified NWAC as one of the beneficiaries of her estate in her will, which helped to sustain our postsecondary student awards program to this day. Ms. Bassett felt strongly about the land rights of Aboriginal people and decided to try and make a difference as an individual. She directed open letters to Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet in 1980 and again in 1983, proposing a plan that a tax be levied on all land transactions in Canada, to be assigned as royalty to the native people, in payment for the possession and use of the land. She reflected these ideas in her booklet “Native Rights”.
Previous years have shown over 60 to 80 applications for 4 awards. This overwhelming response shows that Aboriginal women require more funding resources. As the only support available is provided by Helen Bassett’s estate, the NWAC Youth Department continuously looks for ways to increase the award amount.
Awards are provided to 4 Aboriginal youth from each of the four directions as per NWAC’s cultural framework: North, South, East, and West. The NWAC Youth Helen Bassett Commemorative Award is coordinated by the Youth Department and the selection process and committee are led by Aboriginal youth. Eligibility criteria for the Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award:
- Be currently pursuing post-secondary studies (priority is given to students who are studying law or are in a law related field)
- Demonstrate financial need
- Be an Aboriginal woman under 30 years of age
- Demonstrate a commitment to improving the situation of Aboriginal women and youth in Canada politically, culturally, economically or otherwise
- Former Youth Council members are not eligible to apply
Applications for the 2015 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award are no longer being accepted. Please apply next year.