Inspiring Success - Second year recipient sees scholarship as affirmation of hard work
Quinn Meawasige receives his second consecutive National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation scholarship
By Shari Narine
“This ongoing support really affirms why I’m here pursuing an education. I really want to learn as much as I can and give back to my community,” said Quinn Meawasige, who received his second consecutive National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation scholarship.
Getting the $2,000 NIEEF scholarship, along with being recognized with the Great Lakes Honda Community Driven Award and the Presidential Student Appreciation Award, all encourage Meawasige to continue his hard work as he enters his third year in his four-year honours degree in community economic and social development at Algoma University, in Sault Ste-Marie.
Meawasige came late to formal education and because of that wasn’t prioritized for funding from his First Nation of Serpent River. Without that band funding, he’s had to cobble together his own sources of revenue to make his education happen and he says the NIEEF scholarship “was a breath of fresh air.”
Meawasige has received glowing commendations from his teachers.
“Both in and out of class, I have observed Quinn develop and demonstrate extraordinary qualities that will serve him well in life, and as a future First Nations economic officer, community development officer, and political leader,” said Prof. Derek Rice.
Meawasige is no stranger to politics. In fact, at the age of 18, he was elected as the youngest Serpent River band council member ever. It was this experience that pushed him to pursue his education in order to be able to develop the capacity and knowledge required to spearhead and develop the programs he wanted.
“It was a learning experience for me,” said Meawasige, now 23. “I had many a great idea for our community but I just lacked a little bit of skill and knowledge and education on how to actually bring about the change and the stuff I wanted to see in my community.”
Meawasige has been active on campus at Algoma University.
“Quinn contributes significantly to the university community and student life at Algoma, through engaging openly from a strong sense of identity and culture,” said Sheila Gruner, department chair for the community economic and social development program.
Half way through the four year program, Meawasige still sees it as “an amazing fit” for what he wants to do.
“The program talks about essentially developing the community from the ground up instead of the top down and how to build resilience into the community,” he said.
Along with studying, Meawasige serves on the economic development board on Serpent River First Nation, already putting into use what he is learning. The work with the board is heavily focused on providing skills and opportunities to community members to successfully develop and operate their own businesses. He says he sees a difference in what he brings to the board after two years of studies at Algoma University compared to what he was able to accomplish as a council member.
He is also pursuing Anishinaabe language through the Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig institution, which is on the Algoma University site.
When he graduates Meawasige wants to work as an economic development officer with a focus on language and culture.
Executive MBA, Aboriginal Business & Leadership, Simon Fraser University
Eel River Bar First Nation, New Brunswick
Business Administration - Accounting, New Brunswick Community College, Fredericton
Serpent River First Nation, Ontario