What started out as just a job 10 years ago quickly became a passion for Ngatai Crowchild. Although Crowchild always wanted to go back to school to pursue an education degree, she was so dedicated to her job teaching children in the mainstream and language programs with the Tsuu T'ina Gunaha Institute that taking a break from work to study full-time was a dream placed on the back burner for years.
As a single mom supporting the family, there was also Crowchild's young son to consider.
Then, in 2015, Crowchild was accepted into the new Community-Based Education Program at the University of Calgary, which allows her to study for her degree while remaining in her community, the Tsuu T'ina Nation just west of Calgary.
This past October, she received a $2,500 bursary from TransCanada to help achieve her dream.
“The bursary was very motivating to my academic journey…and allowed me to support my family by alleviating some of the stress associated with working and studying full-time,” she said.
Through the program and the financial support from TransCanada, Crowchild said she’s been given “all the tools needed for success” and is excited to graduate in 2018 and continue her journey as a full-fledged teacher.
She said, “I am not only able to have an impact in the position as a teacher but also as a member of the community to inspire those in my community to find their own passion and work hard to achieve it.”
TransCanada’s Empower Communities Scholarships program will annually award up to 300 scholarships to students living near our geographical footprint across Canada and the United States.
Amanda Affonso, TransCanada’s director of community relations, says the company is often approached by communities requesting support for local education initiatives.
“With a footprint as large as TransCanada's, we were struggling to offer support for education in a way that meets the varied needs of students,” she said.
“So, with the goal of removing barriers to education in mind, we created a program that directly supports students who have diverse career paths."
Christian Matossian, the manager of Indigenous Relations on the Energy East Pipeline project, said the new scholarship program is also an opportunity to specifically address some of the educational challenges faced by Indigenous communities.
“We hear about some of the challenges community members have in accessing the post-secondary education needed to be qualified and ready for when pipeline and other industry jobs in the region are created," he said.
"TransCanada's scholarship program demonstrates our commitment to supporting long-term community capacity building while recognizing the unique barriers that Indigenous youth face in pursuing their career aspirations."
TransCanada is now accepting applications until April 15, 2017. Students have three different scholarship options to choose from:
At the end of the day, Affonso said the goal is to help students like Ngatai access the education they need to build strong and vibrant communities.
Crowchild said, “The bursary from TransCanada has been beneficial not only for myself but also for my son. I want to pass on my positive experiences and have an impact on my community and the lives of the students I work with.”