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Awards Help First Nations Students Reach Their Goals

A financial award from TransCanada Corporation helped Bianca Michell pursue her graduate studies at UNBC.

May 16, 2017
Bianca Michell and Kiel Giddens
UNBC graduate Bianca Michell, a recipeient of a financial award created by TransCanada Corportation and Kiel Giddens, TransCanada's Community Relations Liaison and Prince George Regional Office Lead.

“I want to be a role model for First Nations communities.”

It’s a powerful statement, but not one Bianca Michell shies away from.

Michell, from Fort St. James and the Tl’azt’en First Nation, first graduated from UNBC with her Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies. After graduating with her Master of Health Sciences degree in Community Health this spring, she plans to continue her studies at UNBC as a PhD candidate researching either the prevalence of a bacterial infection in digestive tracts or diabetes in First Nations communities.

Last year, Michell received a financial award created by TransCanada Corporation, which has offered awards and bursaries to UNBC students from First Nation communities since 2014.

“This award helped me out quite a bit,” she said. “It paid my tuition so I could put other funds towards my living expenses.”

That company has now created a series of new Indigenous Community Development Awards, launched by a $60,000 donation over two years. This year, seven UNBC students from First Nation communities in Northern B.C. each received a $3,000 award. As many as 10 undergraduate and graduate students from First Nations communities along the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Corridor will be eligible to receive $3,000 in 2017/18.

Awards such as these expand the University’s ability to attract and retain students from the region, across Canada and around the globe.

“TransCanada is proud of our longstanding commitment to education and we want our projects to leave a lasting legacy of stronger communities, a higher standard of living and a greater quality of life,” said Rick Gateman, President of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project.

“We are grateful for the financial support from TransCanada Corporation as it encourages students from smaller communities in the North to achieve their educational goals,” added Dr. Mark Dale, UNBC Dean of Regional Programs. “Combined with UNBC’s excellent reputation and track record for educating and inspiring next-generation leaders, it’s one example of how we can work together to transform lives and communities in Northern B.C.”

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