Published by Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services on March 1, 2023

Today marks the opening of the Don McBain Memorial Award (DMMA) for its third 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. Benjamin Miller is thoroughly enjoying his program of Bachelor of Engineering – Mechatronics at Sault College, feeling it’s a perfect fit. He’s even doing so well in the program that he made the Dean’s Honour List for the Fall 2022 semester! When asked how the award has contributed to his success, he exclaims, “The award has helped me greatly, paying for all my books and over half of my first year’s tuition. This has allowed me to concentrate on my studies rather than worry about the immense cost of schooling. I am truly thankful for receiving the award.”

Another one of our recipients last year, Tracy Lanoue, is enjoying her studies at Seneca College in Toronto for the Social Services Worker Program, earning high marks in all of her classes, and appreciating the need for self-reflection and awareness while completing her courses. She reached out to the DMMA Committee to let us know how she was doing, saying, “There could never be enough words for me to express the gratitude that I feel for the opportunity of the Don McBain Memorial Award. This award gave me the space and financial freedom that has enabled me to focus on achieving my educational goals. I have been doing very well in school and can volunteer for my resume. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”

Hearing of Benjamin and Tracy’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 old 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, Tache Construction, and Silver Birch Partners are continuing their donations, and we welcome new contributors KRGInsure and Maximus Rose.

Abraham Baboujian, President/Co-CEO of KRGinsure (part of RRJ Insurance Group) was a friend of Don’s and an insurance provider for the OAHS for many years.  RRJ has deep roots in communities throughout Ontario, dating back to 1906. When asked about their decision to become a sponsor for the award, Abraham said:

“We are grateful to be part of this initiative to honour Don McBain’s memory and consider it our privilege to be part of recognizing his legacy. Don was a wonderful man, focused, driven and intelligent, who, through hard work and determination built a strong foundation for OAHS. This award is a fitting tribute to him, to support Indigenous students in their endeavour to further their education. His unwavering compassion, empathy and generosity were/are the hallmarks of his everlasting legacy. “

Tony Fasulo echoes Abraham’s sentiments. Tony is the CEO of Maximus Rose Living Benefits Inc., and shares similar roots with Don in Sault Ste. Marie and even shared the same office building. “At the heart of [Maximus Rose’s] mission is a deep commitment to supporting the communities we serve. Sponsoring the Don McBain Memorial Award allows us to make a positive impact on the lives of Indigenous youth and to help build a brighter future for all Canadians,” Tony said. “By investing in their education, we believe we can create a more equitable and inclusive society, where all individuals have access to the resources they need to succeed. We are proud to play a part in their journey, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on their communities.” The DMMA Committee is honoured to have both Tony and Abraham as new sponsors for this award.

The DMMA Committee is humbled by the continued sponsorship of several other organizations that collaborated with Don throughout his career including Two Row Architect, an is an Indigenous-owned and operated firm in the Six Nations reserve in Southern Ontario and has been a long-time collaborator with OAHS, CGV Builders’ Bobby Vezeau (Vice President) and Dan Tache, President of Tache Construction located in North Bay. Tache 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 and this is their second year sponsoring the award.

Silver Birch Partners, a consulting firm that has been a part of OAHS’s history for many years has graciously contributed to this year’s award for a second time. Ken Jones, Managing Partner has been a staple with our organization and recently accepted the position of Chief Financial Officer for OAHS. “One of the highlights of my business career has been to accept the offer Don made to me many years ago and become part of this great organization.”

“It is again 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 wonderful 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.”

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 April 28, 2023.