Yesterday marked the first submission day of the Don McBain Memorial Award. Since 2017, the idea of contributing to an Indigenous student’s education has finally come to fruition and applications are now open for all Indigenous secondary students in Ontario.

Motivated by the cherished memory of the late Don McBain, an enthusiastic planning committee comprised of his family and Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) staff was formed to set the framework in motion for the establishment of a nationally distributed student award in his name. Under the leadership of Don’s daughter, Sarah, the Don McBain Memorial Award Committee was created allowing for Indigenous students entering their first year of postsecondary education to compete for two $5,000 awards.

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 was made possible by OAHS and generous contributions from our contracting partner CGV Builders. Bobby Vezeau, 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 honorable man,” Vezeau said. “His efforts in building such a strong foundation to OAHS is in my opinion the reason why this group remains strong today.”

Heather Edwards, a committee member of the Award, states that “We are grateful to the sponsors for their generous contributions that allowed us to create this award in the name of someone so treasured by all who knew him and those who benefited from his dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous families. We know that Don’s spirit is proudly watching over the selection process to ensure that the most deserving candidates receive this special funding.”

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 2021.