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Every year, the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) provides the Helen Bassett Commemorative Award to four Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, or gender-diverse students, in the amount of $1,000 each.
The awards are made possible through generous donation by Helen Bassett, an Ontario artist and passionate advocate for the advancement of Indigenous women, as well as 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 a tax be levied on all land transactions in Canada, with a royalty paid to Indigenous Peoples. 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.
Our Business, Employment, and Social Development (BESD) Unit coordinates the award program, while Indigenous youth manage the selection process.
Awards are provided to four Indigenous youth from each of the four directions: North, south, east, and west.
My name is Samantha Gardiner. I am a Bachelor of Social Work student, mother, wife, and comprehensive community plan coordinator for my First Nation. After taking leave from my university career, I went back to finish my Bachelor of Arts before applying to the Bachelor of Social Work program. I have always wanted to study social work; I am so thankful to have the opportunity to do so. While at the time I felt embarrassed heading into a first-year college class to get a credit toward my undergrad, carrying my infant with me, I am so glad I did.
Kylie Jack is a Syilx (Okanagan) woman from the Penticton Indian Band. While completing her Bachelor of Art’s degree, majoring in Criminology, she played NCAA division II women’s varsity golf at Simon Fraser University. She is currently in her second year of the Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders joint degree (JD/JID) at the University of Victoria. She is the Indigenous Law Student Association Upper Year Rep for the upcoming year, and was elected as the Faculty of Law Student Representative for the Senate.
Kylie has been learning her language, Nqilwxcn, because she knows Indigenous Peoples' language is law, and as a Syilx woman it is important to learn her Traditional Ways and pass them on to the next generation. As a role model in her community, she inspires other young women to use their voice and practice their Traditions.
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.