Published by Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services on March 1, 2024

Today marks the opening of the Don McBain Memorial Award (DMMA) for its fourth 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 recipients and their efforts so far in their first year of post-secondary studies. Isaiah Shafqat is currently in his first year of studies towards his Honours Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Human Rights and Human Diversity at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree at the University of Sussex, a unique program allowing him to earn both degrees in six years.

The Award committee checked in with him this past month and he told us that he’s been doing well, focusing on the new semester and all the adjustments that come with being an adult and going to university. When asked about how the award has helped, he stated, “The award helped me during my first year of university by allowing me to start my first year without any student loans and purchase all the necessary textbooks and subscriptions I needed for my classes!”

Hearing of Isaiah’s latest successes only excites us more to have another year of helping Indigenous youth achieve their goals.

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.

This award is possible because of our generous contributions from sponsors returning and new, and we’re thrilled to announce that we have even more organizations on board to help continue this award. OAHS, CGV Builders, Two Row Architect, Taché Construction, KRGInsure, Maximus Rose, and Silver Birch Partners are continuing their donations, and we welcome a new contributor, Patrick Daley of PD Realty Incorporated.

Patrick Daley has been an asset and a great collaborator with OAHS for several years, and we are honoured to have his contributions added to this award. “I have enjoyed working with OAHS for 11 years assisting with their real estate needs and it is exciting to be a part of their continued growth,” Patrick told the committee. “It is an honour to contribute to the annual Don McBain Memorial Award this year and I look forward to contributing for many years to come.”

The Don McBain Memorial Award has also received funding from our very own staff! Led by Peggy Rice, she and other staff chose to honour their late and former leader by contributing to this year’s award, with Peggy providing her donation in honour of staff who volunteered to assist her recently completed Applied Research Paper, the final requirement for her Master’s in Business Administration.

It is inspiring to see so many organizations, including our staff, that want to support the future of Indigenous youth, and we look forward to selecting this year’s recipients in the upcoming summer.

Heather Edwards is one of the grateful members of our award committee. “As Don’s sister and member of the Don McBain Memorial Award Committee, I am so grateful to the donors who allow Don’s name and accomplishments to live on. Each year, the presentation of cheques to appreciative and deserving students headed into their post-secondary experience warms my heart and soul. I know that this fills my brother’s spirit with joy.”

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 April 26, 2024.