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Inspiring Indigenous Victoria students win RBC award

Two Indigenous youth hope to inspire the next generation of students

Two university students from Greater Victoria were named to the Royal Bank of Canada Future-Launch Indigenous Youth Scholarship on June 11.

Jessica Mirasty, a JD Law Student at the University of Victoria (UVic) and Katie Timms of Saaichton were awarded the prize. They are eligible to receive up to $10,000 per year over four years. 

Timms studied at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she reconnected with her culture and ancestry. Now, she is setting her sights on a Juris Idigenarum Doctor (JID) Law program at the University of Victoria.

Rekindling her culture was a very difficult challenge initially, but as time went by, she found herself warmly welcomed by her community, said Timms.

"I found so many other Métis students who had the same experiences as myself, and am also able to re-teach members of my family elements of our Métis culture, which has been a beautiful and grounding experience."

Timms wants to build a better future for Indigenous communities and believes her study at UBC and UVic will prepare her for the next step in her career.

"Pursuing an Indigenous law program at the University of Victoria will also prepare me to achieve this goal. To establish change communities, we must look at the source, which is the laws that have the power to help Indigenous peoples," Timms said.

Mirasty grew up in the Flying Dust First Nation in Saskatchewan. She said she credits her community for their support and wants to share her experience with other Indigenous students. 

"My experiences have allowed me to take deeper perspectives and I only wish for the future Indigenous students to have many opportunities to develop themselves as I grew up with little to no resources in terms of mental health supports, academics and sports by living on reserve," Mirasty said. 

According to Statistics Canada, non-Indigenous youth were 72 per cent more likely to compete or complete a post-secondary program compared to 37 per cent of Indigenous youth with access to these institutions and training often limited.

“Being a part of this joint degree program, I will be able to learn about the Indigenous legal traditions, governance, and environment. In addition to this, the learnings at UVic Law promote Indigenous self-governance, which is crucial for Indigenous people as we have our own way of life and traditions that we followed long before colonization," Mirasty said.

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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