Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative Student Award

The Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative Student Award honours Indigenous activist, Nellie Makois Carlson, and all she has done for Indigenous rights. We celebrate her memory by awarding three hard-working mothers and/or primary caregivers working toward making a better future for their children.

Three successful applicants will be chosen, for an award of $1,000.00 each.


  • 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, who are single parents.
  • Open to all age groups.
  • Applicants must demonstrate financial need.




2023 Award Recipients

Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative Student Award

Michelle Soto


Michelle Soto’s Cree name is Mihkwâ Osâwâw Kihew Iskwew (Red Yellow Eagle Woman). She is a Cree/Dene First Nations Two-Spirit woman from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, AB. Her maternal home community is Dene Tha First Nation near High Level, AB. Both of Michelle’s parents are residential school survivors. Currently living in central Alberta, Michelle began a traditional mentorship at the age of 4, and has experience in social work, child care, as a traditional artist/Knowledge Keeper, youth worker, and as a foster parent. She is currently in the Indigenous Social Work Degree program at Maskwacis Cultural College.

Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative Student Award

MB – Amber Fontaine


Amber Fontaine is from Sagkeeng First Nation (Fort Alexander). She is the mother of a wonderful daughter named Athena, who is her motivation, strength, and heart. A first-generation university student, Amber is showing her daughter how important education is. She is beyond ecstatic and grateful to be a recipient of the Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative Student Award, which will help provide food security and cover other living costs of living, freeing her to focus on her schooling. She thanks (Chi-meegwetch) NWAC for helping her pursue her dream to create more healing environments for those around me.


The Native Women’s Association of Canada is proud of its Nellie Makokis Carlson Commemorative 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:

  • Carmen Poitras
  • Serenity Saphire Moar
  • Sierra Ettawacappo

2021 winners:

  • Amelia Fox
  • Charisma Castle
  • Lori Deets