Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Awards

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.




2023 Award Recipients

Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Award

BC – Katrina Woodgate


Katrina Woodgate is from Burns Lake, BC, and belongs to Lake Babine Nation Band. She is in her first year of the social work program at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, with a goal of attaining a Bachelor of Social Work. Katrina is committed to serving the local First Nations community. She is passionate about working with people, supporting the community, and learning about her culture and language. Katrina is grateful to be selected for the Micheal Melancon-Koffend Student Award and thanks NWAC, as well as her friends and family, for their support.

Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Award

NB – Olivia Wakelin


Olivia Wakelin is from Natoaganeg First Nation, NB. She is in her third year of the Foods and Nutrition program at the University of Prince Edward Island. Olivia plans to pursue a career as a dietitian. Outside of her studies, she enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with friends and family. Olivia is very thankful to be a 2023 recipient of the Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Award.

Michael Melancon-Koffend Student Award

SK – Alvina Merasty


Alvina Merasty is a Woodland Cree woman from Pelican Narrows, SK. She began her post-secondary journey in 2019. In 2021, she obtained a diploma in Mental Health and Wellness. Currently, Alvina is in her third year of studies at the First Nations University of Canada, in the Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work program. Alvina has a passion for community, culture, and people. She wishes to dedicate much of her time to support her community, help others, learn about her culture and language, and work on her inner self, so that she may walk with others in a good way.


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


Previous Winners:


2022 winners:

  • Ashton Hiebert
  • Avery Velez
  • Cassidy Richert
  • Cynthia Denny
  • Kaiahtenhtas Thompson
  • Kassua Dreyer
  • Kyra Sanguez
  • Mindy Dallard
  • Ruth Speck
  • Stephanie Brousseau

2021 winners:

  • Amanda Bradbury
  • Chelsea Gibson
  • Isabella Sinclair
  • Kirsten Fleury
  • Michaela McGuire
  • Rachel Blowers