The first annual Don McBain Memorial Award has come to a close and Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services is proud to announce its recipients Emily Shostal and Daniel Boissoneau!

Emily Shostal is from Lanark, Ontario and originates from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba. Graduating first highest standing in her class, Emily won the Governor General’s Award for highest cumulative 11 and 12 grades. She is off to Queen’s University for Health Sciences with the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) pathway. Only 10 students across Canada are chosen for this pathway. With QuARMS, she is eligible to apply to medical school after only two years of undergraduate studies. She has also made these achievements while undergoing the diagnosis and treatment of Immune Thrombocytopenia.

Emily is very close to her grandmother, who is a Residential School Survivor and Emily continuously learns about her language and culture. Throughout high school, she was the only Indigenous Student leader; she worked on projects and read announcements for her school to educate them on Indigenous issues and events. Emily plans to use her strengths and fascination in science, mathematics, and medicine to work with or start new Indigenous health initiatives in her future.

Daniel Boissoneau is from Kenora, Ontario and originates from the Garden River First Nation outside of Sault Ste. Marie. Daniel went to Beaver Brae Secondary School, where he was a student-athlete on the Honour Roll in Grades 9, 10, and 12. He is a two-time NORWOSSA Champion in basketball. Daniel took the last year off after graduating high school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, Daniel had auditioned to enroll at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, B.C. He was successful but didn’t have the funds to go, although it was quite the morale booster. After a year off, he’s ready to tackle his first steps of adulthood and pursue a career in acting. This coming fall, he will be attending Canadore College in North Bay, ON and will be taking their three-year program for Acting for the Stage and Screen.

This award was created with the idea of contributing to an Indigenous student’s education in Ontario their first year of postsecondary education receiving two $5,000 awards, and we think that these two recipients completely fit the criteria.

Don was the driving force behind the establishment of OAHS which was incorporated in 1994 and had a positive impact on the lives of everyone he encountered.  Don worked tirelessly for decades carrying out OAHS’s mission and vision.  During his tenure, OAHS grew from a developing agent into a multi-faceted Corporation employing over 80 people while owning and administering a portfolio of over 2,400 safe and affordable housing units while designing and delivering both repair and homeownership program opportunities. His drive, work ethic and determination for a better community were seen directly in Emily and Daniel and we look forward to their future as they continue their education.

OAHS would like to thank everyone who applied this year for the award. We were moved and inspired by your stories, the kind words of your mentors and peers, and the passion you have for creating better communities. We would also like to thank CGV Builders and their Vice-President Robert Vezeau for their continued donation towards the award and for making this whole process possible. A final thank you to the Don McBain family and committee who worked tirelessly reading through applications and planning the entire process.

We look forward to the announcement of next year’s award so stay tuned for Spring 2022!