Every year, NWAC hands out  the Helen Bassett Commemorative Award to four young Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, or gender-diverse students in the amount of $1,000 each. The awards are made possible by the generous donation of Helen Bassett, an Ontario artist and passionate advocate for the advancement of Indigenous women and for fair solutions to Indigenous land claim issues. She directed open letters to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his cabinet in 1980 and again in 1983, proposing that a tax be levied on all land transactions in Canada, with a royalty paid to Indigenous people. She outlined her ideas in Native Rights. In her selflessness, she specified NWAC as one of the beneficiaries of her estate. This has helped to sustain our post-secondary student awards program to this day.

(Application deadline for 2020 now closed. Applications for next year will open in Spring 2021.)


The Awards Program

Our Business, Employment and Social Development (BESD) Unit coordinates the award program and Indigenous youth manage the selection process.

Awards  are provided to four Indigenous youth from each of the four directions: North, South, East, and West.


Criteria

Applicants must:

  • 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 Indigenous woman, gender-diverse, or Two-Spirit person under 31 years of age
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving the situation of Indigenous women and youth in Canada politically, culturally, economically, or otherwise

2020 Award Recipients

Bailee Brewster was born and raised in Prince Albert, SK. She is a member of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Western Region II. Bailee graduated with honours from École St. Mary High School in Prince Albert in 2016. For the past three years, Bailee attended the University of Saskatchewan College of Arts and Science, majoring in Psychology. During this time, Bailee was awarded two Indigenous Achievement Awards for Academic Excellence. This upcoming academic year, Bailee will be entering her first year in the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan.
Jaime Fortin is a young Indigenous woman currently in her second year of Law School at Queen’s University. Her father is Anishinaabe and French and her mother is Syrian. Jaime grew up on a small reserve on Treaty 9 Territory in Northern Ontario called Chapleau Cree First Nation, but her family is originally from Michipocoten First Nation. She completed her undergrad from Trent University in Indigenous Studies and Gender Studies and is now in law school, pursuing a legal education to try to make change happen. Jaime is very passionate about is Indigenous law and Indigenous rights both within the Canadian context and internationally. She believes that Indigenous youth need to be given opportunities to connect with their culture and knowledge teachers as well that they need to incorporate traditional legal practices into contemporary society.
Mia Gill is a second year Political Science student at McGill University from Calgary, Alberta. She is Dehcho Dene, a member of Liidlii Kue First Nation in the Northwest Territories. Mia is a motivated advocate for Indigenous peoples, and specifically women and two-spirit individuals. As a lesbian First Nations woman she is passionate about bettering the lives of these communities. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts, she seeks to attain a joint MBA and law degree, with a focus in human rights.
My Name is Chakira Young. I am a young Mi’kmaq woman and from Eskasoni First Nation. I am a Mother to a 7-year-old girl named Freedom, and I am expecting a son in October 2020. I am an inspiring Indigenous social worker. My goals and passion are instilled within my identity and culture. I hope to bring love, happiness, and healing within our communities, and families.


Previous Winners

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is proud of its Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award winners, who have all demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of Indigenous women and youth politically, economically, and culturally.

2019

Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers

Jeneva Dennis

Allysa Mark

Taylor Vodden

2018

Tewateronhia:khwa Jordan Nelson

Alyssa Mark

Kayla Lavallee

Kerrin-lee Whyte

2017

Desirée Duplessis

Tamara Takpanie

Leah Combs

Sophie Bender Johnston (Ookishkimaanisii)