The first recipients of scholarships from the Ozîja Thiha Education Trust (OTET) have been presented to Bearspaw First Nation students for the fall semester of 2022.

In total, 79 students received awards with a total value of $34,100.

The OTET was recently established by the Bearspaw First Nation chief and council to assist, recognize and encourage students through incentives, scholarships, and awards now and in the future. It follows in the footsteps of creating the Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust in August 2021.

Bearspaw CEO Rob Shotclose says upon creating the legacy trust they wanted to establish the scholarship fund. He says it follows the path established by some other Alberta First Nations, including the Samson Cree Nation. He says they have built a trust fund of $40 million over a 35-year period and continue to assist many in earning earn degrees, masters, PhDs., and trades. 

"That's what we're trying to emulate," says Shotclose. "We're starting out small but we put $50,000 away in an investment account and took another $50,000 from our businesses and then we've sourced a bunch of donation money. We're starting out slow but maybe we could come into some monies of our own that we could use to invest and keep it going."

He says many people and companies have stepped forward with generous donations, including Spray Lake Sawmills. 

The OTET board of directors extends appreciation for the corporate and individual donors who gave generously to assist deserving students.

The scholarships were presented to the following students:

Post-Secondary Scholarships, Adult Education & Upgrading:

BentallGreenOak Scholarships: Trina Kootenay, Michelle Labelle, Shayannah Labelle, Tanya Mark, Samantha Smalleyes, Kelrick Smalleyes, Raquel Twoyoungmen and Athina Twoyoungmen

Centex Petroleum Scholarships: Josie Amos, Briana Amos, Jacob Amos and Honesty Wesley Crowe

MacKay LLP Scholarships: Giona Smalleyes, Steve Bearspaw and Gloria Snow Fiera

Capital Scholarships: Trandy Crawler, Lorelee House and Alex Labelle

Leith Wheeler Scholarships: Dacster Chiniquay and Celina Dixon

Lydia and Matt Hill Family Scholarship: Ravin Dixon

Mawer Investment Management Scholarships: Candace Bearspaw, Autumn Chiefmoon-Dixon, Summer Chiefmoon-Dixon, Chloe Dixon, Ilise Dixon, Michael Dixon-Striemer and Wanda Rider

Munro & Associates Scholarships: Theresa J. Daniels, Chandler Dixon, Tobias Ear and Elshia Jimmy John.

OTLT Trustees (Michele Horne, Julian Leong, William MacLachlan) Scholarships: Evania Daniels, Skilee Dixon and Isabelle Labelle

Parkland Corporation Scholarships: Leah Amos, Mercedes Arcega, Tracey Ann Crawler, Buddie Dixon, Fiona Dixon, Paige Dixon, Tysa Ear and Ina Wesley

Rae and Company Scholarship: Lonnie Dixon

Spray Lake Sawmills Scholarships: Tylie Jimmy John, Desiree Labelle, Rayne Labelle, Maimi Simeon and Jarrett Bearspaw

Tim Hortons Kananaskis Scholarships: Colleen Crawler, Kristy CrowSpreadHisWing and Kyle Daniels

William Blair Investment Management Scholarships: Taylor CrowSpreadHisWing and Tyler EagleSpeaker Dixon

High School Graduates:

BentallGreenOak Scholarships: Colene Beaver, Terrence Daniels, Olivia Daniels, Ariin Indio Dixon, Angelina Dixon and Michele Dixon-Striemer

Parkland Corporation Scholarship: Elizah Bearspaw, Brady Benjamin, Dwyshina Dixon, Gavin Ear, Isabelle Kootenay; Tancee Labelle; Miguel Labelle, Tretyton Lefthand, Rainbow Lefthand, Ezra Elliot Lefthand, Mark Jaton Lefthand, Shakira Lefthand, Sparrow Little Sky-Daniels and Timone Rider.

Tim Hortons Kananaskis Scholarship: Bradley Salter, Michael Striemier, Cornell Twoyoungmen, Brandon Twoyoungmen and Carlene Wildman

Shotclose says about four months ago they also provided scholarships to four off-reserve high school students.

The next scholarships will be available in February 2023.

More information on the education trust can be found here.