Policy Sectors

In 2020, the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) received a generous donation from Marie Melancon-Ifram. In her selflessness, she specified NWAC as one of the beneficiaries of her estate, with direction that the donation be used to provide bursaries. Bursaries named in her late son’s name, Michael Melancon-Koffend, will enable Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse post-secondary students to pursue their educational goals.


The Awards Program

The Michael Melancon-Koffend Awards are coordinated by NWAC’s Business, Employment, and Social Development (BESD) Unit. Indigenous youth manage the selection process.

The annual Michael Melancon-Koffend Award provides $1,000 for selected Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, or gender-diverse students to pursue their post-secondary studies.


  • Applicants must be pursuing post-secondary studies (open to all fields of studies).
  • Award is intended for Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people.
  • Open to all age groups.
  • Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
  • Priority given to students committed to improving situations of Indigenous women and gender-diverse people in Canada politically, culturally, economically, or otherwise.
  • Open only for PEI, YT, and NU applicants.

2020 Scholarship Recipients

This year, the Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Award Selection Committee received and reviewed over 140 applications. NWAC is pleased to announce 11 awards to the following outstanding women:


Amanda Bradbury

I am Amanda Bradbury, and I am a Mètis woman from Fort Simpson, NT. I am currently in my final year of my Master of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner, and have practiced as a Registered Nurse for the last nine years. Following completion of my program, I plan to remain North of 60 to practice in the Primary Care setting. My ultimate hope is that I can improve access to health care services, while providing comprehensive and culturally safe care.


Chelsea Gibson

I am from the turtle clan of the Cayuga Nation from Six Nations of the Grand River. I am a mother to three beautiful children and a full time university student studying Criminology and minoring in Indigenous Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. After graduation this fall I hope to become a police officer. I am passionate about strengthening the relationship between police and Indigenous people. Going to school full time and being a mother has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and the most rewarding! Education and motherhood is where I found my strength and healing. If you have a dream or goal you always wanted to do, just do it! Don’t let anyone ever discourage you. It’s never too late to begin or continue on with your education. Life is too short to not do what you always wanted to do.


Isabella Sinclair

My name is Isabella Sinclair. I am a Métis woman from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I’m currently in my second year of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, in hopes of receiving my bachelor’s degree. I plan to use my degree to work with Indigenous communities through researching methods on improving the legal and socio-economic well-being of Indigenous Peoples. I am grateful to receive this award, as it will help me continue my studies.


Kirsten Fleury

Kirsten Fleury is a 24-year-old Métis woman from St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba. She is a first-year medical student at the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. During her undergraduate degree for her Bachelor of Science, Kirsten was able to connect with undergraduate research opportunities in the area of Métis Health and Wellness, which used Indigenous Research Methodology. This experience working with communities in a health research capacity inspired Kirsten to become a doctor to provide culturally safe care to her Indigenous relations. She hopes in the future to continuing partnering with Indigenous communities for health research to aid in the creation of data to hopefully reduce health disparities that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans.


Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire (Jaad Gudgihljiwah) is a PhD student in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Michaela’s PhD research will build upon her Master’s (MA) thesis research–XaaydaGa Tll Yahda TllGuhlGa Decolonizing Justice: The formation of a Haida Justice System. Michaela is of the G̲aag’yals K̲iiG̲awaay clan and a citizen of the Haida Nation, and is also Ojibwe, British, and Irish. Her research interests include: Haida justice; decolonization, and resurgence; Haida belonging; racism against Indigenous Peoples; Indigenous rights and sovereignty; Indigenous women; and corrections.


Rachel Blowers

I’m so honoured to be chosen as a recipient of the 2021 Michael Melancon-Koffend Award. I will be entering into my fourth and final year of the Bachelor of Nursing program at the University of New Brunswick. I am a proud Mi’kmaq woman from Metepenagiag First Nation. My dream is to ensure Indigenous women have access to safe, culturally competent, health care services by continuing my education after graduation to become a health care provider for Indigenous populations. I plan to continue my work with my university as an Indigenous peer mentor, as well as continue my work as a NB youth advisory member for the IWK hospital.

Thank you so much for believing in me!


Samantha Gardiner

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 for a credit toward my undergrad while carrying my infant with me, I am so glad I did.


Samantha Lavallee

Samantha Lavallée is a Master of Epidemiology and Applied Health Research Candidate at Dalhousie University. She previously gradated with a Bachelor of Science Honours Specialization in Biology, and Bachelor of Commerce with high distinctions, from Nipissing University. Samantha is Huron-Métis and is very involved with her local Indigenous communities. Samantha has been activity involved in projects with the Métis Nation of Ontario, Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Nipissing University, North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, and the Union of Ontario Indians. Samantha is passionate about Indigenous health and is going to be completing research on haptoglobin phenotypes, intensive blood-pressure control treatments, and the risk of incident cardiovascular disease for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Samantha hopes to continue working with Indigenous populations and is passionate about advancing the health of Indigenous communities.


Valerie Ouellet

My name is Valerie Ouellet, I am a member of Bigstone Cree Nation, and was born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta. I am currently residing in Edmonton, studying at Concordia University, in my third year of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology and Psychology. I have plans to continue my education once my Bachelor's Degree is complete, and am hoping to complete a degree in Forensic Sciences and/or Law. I hope that with my knowledge I can one day make change within the government and the individuals within it, as well as the community who abide by it. I hope that one day everyone can feel safe within their community and put their trust in the legal system. I am beyond grateful to receive the Micheal Melacon-Koffend Student award and cannot express my gratitude in words.


Everlyne Fowler 

British Columbia 

No photo or bio available


Ashley Jadis

Prince Edward Island

No photo or bio available.