2 Indigenous students win $25K toward STEAM post-secondary studies

Two Indigenous students are heading to Ottawa to accept $25,000 prizes toward their post-secondary studies in STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Prizes awarded on basis of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Math work and volunteering

Two Indigenous students are heading to Ottawa to accept $25,000 prizes toward their post-secondary studies in STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Cassidy Blanchard is a member of Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation from Meadows, N.L.,  and Shaye Anne Pierson is Métis from Coalhurst, Alta.

Cassidy Blanchard is from Meadows, N.L. (Submitted by Ingenium Foundation)

Blanchard will be studying biochemistry in the fall at Memorial University and hopes to get into medical school, eventually applying her skills in Northern reserves.

"I hope I can inspire other Indigenous youth to go in and be involved in science as well," said Blanchard.

The STEAM Horizon awards, founded in 2016, are open to Canadian students ages 16-18. The awards aim to recognize students who are active in science, technology, engineering, arts or math, and have had a positive impact on their communities through their research or volunteering contributions.

Two of the awards go to Indigenous students. 

Busy volunteers

In 2012, after losing her cousin to cancer, Blanchard got involved with Relay for Life, which started her path into volunteering.

"I liked the atmosphere of that and knowing I was helping others so I got involved with Run for the Cure, We Share Hunger, and volunteering at a local long-term care centre," said Blanchard.

"I like knowing that I can help others that I am doing what I can improve my community."

Shaye Anne Pierson is from Coalhurst, Alta. (Submitted by Ingenium Foundation)

Pierson said that for most of her life she wanted to be a heart surgeon, but after spending time volunteering as a tutor, she decided she wanted to become a teacher.

"I learned how much I love teaching when I started tutoring more," said Pierson.

"I've worked so hard in academics to be able to be the best teacher I can in the future."

'I love being out helping'

Pierson said she has always loved volunteering, keeping busy serving other people.

"It gets overwhelming," she said.

"Most of the time I'm always busy. But it's still fun and it's fulfilling and it makes me so happy, I love being out helping."

Being one of two Indigenous award recipients is an honour, she said.

"I think that Indigenous people have much to offer and it is so sad how a lot of Indigenous people people believe that they are somehow less capable of accomplishing great things," she said.

Her advice for Indigenous students who are struggling in school is to keep trying and ignore the voices who tell you you can't do anything.

The award ceremony takes place May 15 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.