Today marks the opening of the Don McBain Memorial Award for its second year! Since 2017, the idea of contributing to an Indigenous student’s education will continue and applications are now open for all Indigenous secondary students in Ontario. Last year was a great success with the award, and we received dozens of applications across the province.

We are proud of last year’s recipient Emily Shostal and her efforts during her first year at Queen’s University for Health Sciences with the Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) pathway. With only a month left of her freshman year, she has achieved a grade point average of 3.68, taking classes from Pharmacology to Social and Physical Determinants of Health. She even has time to volunteer a few hours every few weeks with Kingston Community Living and engages in school clubs like Indigenous Learners of Health Sciences and the school’s Indigenous STEM Academics (STEM:InA).

“This funding has aided my quality of life greatly. With reduced stress, I can work my hardest and work towards my future goals,” Emily says. “I can afford to visit my family occasionally and not have to work while attending school so I can focus on my grades completely.”

After hearing of Emily’s latest successes, this only excites us more to have another year of helping Indigenous youth achieve their dreams.

Motivated by the memory of the late Don McBain, the founder and former Executive Director of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS), 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.

Through the leadership of Don’s daughter, Sarah, the Don McBain Memorial Award Committee is elated to announce that through several new sponsors, the award has been expanded to include an additional student the opportunity to receive funding for their post-secondary education. They will now be awarding $5,000 to three students instead of two.

This award is possible because of our generous contributions from sponsors old and new. OAHS and CGV Builders are continuing their donations, and we welcome Two Row Architect, Tache Construction, and Silver Birch Partners as new contributors.

Two Row Architect is an Indigenous-owned and operated firm in the Six Nations reserve in Southern Ontario and has been a long-time collaborator with OAHS. Principal Brian Porter recalled, “I have nothing but respect for and the fondest memories of Don McBain. Under his innovative and charismatic leadership, he was the driving force in building Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services into the province-wide leader in affordable and supportive housing that we know today. He also had a keen eye for spotting talent and promoting individuals within his organization.”

When asked about the award, Porter shared, “It is a natural and fitting tribute for Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services to be honouring his memory through these scholarships that will be awarded to Indigenous youth. Don would have wanted nothing more than to support the next generation of innovators.”

Dan Tache, President of Tache Construction located in North Bay commented, “It is my pleasure to contribute to the Don McBain Memorial Award Scholarship that is awarded to Indigenous students from Ontario pursuing their first year of post-secondary studies.” Tache Construction has worked with OAHS on numerous developments throughout the province.

Silver Birch Partners, a consulting firm that has been a part of OAHS’s history for many years has also graciously contributed to this year’s award. Ken Jones, Managing Partner has been a staple with our organization for over a decade. “We consider it an honour to have the opportunity to contribute to the Don McBain Memorial Award.  Contributing to the first year of post-secondary studies for two indigenous students is a fitting tribute to Don’s great legacy.  We hope this support will help inspire these students to become future leaders themselves, providing lasting and impactful solutions to our indigenous people.”

CGV Builder’s Bobby Nadeau, Vice President of the company, started working with Don back in 2010 in CGV’s town of Cochrane. “At the time I was a young design builder with some experience but not a whole lot. Don, Justin [Executive Director at OAHS], and I met for lunch…My impression of Don following our first meeting is very easy to remember, he was an honourable man,” Nadeau said. “His efforts in building such a strong foundation to OAHS is, in my opinion, the reason why this group remains strong today.”

It is inspiring to see so many organizations wanting to support the future of Indigenous youth, and we look forward to selecting this year’s recipients in the upcoming summer. The Don McBain Memorial award is an online application that can be found on the Don McBain Memorial Page on our website with applications due in April of 2022.