Bright Future

A two-time recipient of the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards has big ideas about her role in the world

Born and raised in Fort McMurray, Alta., young Jasmine Dionne wields strong convictions regarding her role as a member of the Mtis community. She recalls a leadership conference she attended in high school where students were each given a $25 bill – the intent being to find ways to make the money grow for charitable purposes. Dionne ended up making $300 to donate back to her school.

“Even though it doesn’t sound like a lot, it was so good to see $25 grow to $300 toward equipment that is needed for the students who are handicapped in my high school.” In her Grade 12 year, she was nominated for a regional Aboriginal Female Youth of the Year Award.

Her verve caught the attention of the Belcourt Brosseau Metis Awards committee, which awarded Dionne a Syncrude Scholarship in 2013. The awards – which are managed by Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), and are awarded to around 140 applicants annually – provide financial support to Mtis students in postsecondary studies.

On applying for the award, Dionne was intending to embark on post-secondary studies in law. Even at 18-years-old, she demonstrated a mature understanding of her potential to impact not only Canadian Aboriginal peoples, but also others around the globe. Since receiving her first prize last year, she has completed her first year in the Law and Society program at the University of Calgary. Dionne also received a second award to assist in her with costs of her education going forward.

“I think coming from a background where I already know the suffering, I would be able to give assistance and be more passionate,” Dionne explains, citing her grandmother’s experience in residential schools as one key to her interest in studying law. Eventually, she hopes to work for the United Nations on the Committee for Indigenous Peoples.

The largest nongovernmental source of Mtis student funding in Canada, the Belcourt Brosseau Mtis Awards have granted over $4.5 million to upwards of 700 Albertan students since Herb Belcourt, Orval Belcourt, and Georges Brosseau started the fund in 2001. The committee for the Awards was excited by Dionne’s spark and leadership traits, and also enlisted her to speak at last year’s award ceremony.

“I know who I am, and now I want other people to know who they are so that it’s never stripped away from them.”

“She’s involved not just with her Aboriginal community, but she also volunteers and dances,” explains Craig Stumpf-Allen, Director of Grants and Community Engagement at ECF, pointing to Dionne’s involvement with Mtis Days and Fort McKay Treaty Days, as well as putting in hours at her local SPCA and Santa’s Anonymous charities. Somehow, she’s also found the time to keep up her skills in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and contemporary dance. “She had been a bit of a role model in her high school years, and there’s a real sense of passion around the law and helping the Aboriginal community.”

Since receiving her scholarship in 2013, Dionne was also featured as a winner of a Syncrude Scholarship by Syncrude’s Pathways  agazine last year, and worked over the summer as an administrative intern in Syncrude’s government affairs department in Fort McMurray.

“I honestly would not have been able to go to University if it wasn’t for the BBMAs. That’s not just financially, but I probably wouldn’t have believed in myself either,” Dionne says, adding that she is grateful for her family members that taught her about her Mtis identity. “I know who I am, and now I want other people to know who they are so that it’s never stripped away from them.”

Click here to read more stories from the Autumn 2014 issue of Legacy in Action.