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OFNTSC Announces Winners of the 2020 Student Achievement Awards

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BRANTFORD, ON (August 10, 2020) – Today, the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporations (OFNTSC) announced the winners of its 2020 Student Achievement Awards. Each year, these awards are given to First Nations students in Ontario who are pursuing a technical career.

The awards, valued at $2,000 each, are comprised of two Student Achievement Awards and three memorial awards. The memorial awards are given out in honour of OFNTSC’s late colleagues whose work has left an indelible mark on First Nations throughout Ontario.

The winners of the 2020 Student Achievement awards are Chantel Desrochers and Megan Laroche. The 2020 Derrick Kamanga Memorial Award winner is Sterling George; the Robert Olivier Memorial Award winner is Aaryn Zoccole; and the Jay Benedict Memorial Award Winner is Bohdana Innes.

“These awards are an integral part of the work we do at OFNTSC,” said Melanie Debassige, OFNTSC Executive Director. “They serve as a mechanism to support Indigenous youth who are currently enrolled in fields that will help our people achieve technologically self-sufficient, self-reliant communities. We strongly feel that we are supporting future engineers, innovators, leaders, and stars in these fields.”

Derrick Kamanga Memorial Award Winner – Sterling George

Sterling George’s roots stem from both Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and Fort Erie. He lived in Fort Erie during his early years, and now currently lives in Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Sterling’s passion for engineering is visible in his drive to succeed in his university courses and in attaining a summer internship at MIG Engineering Ltd. In Sarnia, ON. This fall Sterling will enter his second year of the Civil Engineering program at Western University.

Robert Olivier Memorial Award Winner – Aaryn Zoccole

Aaryn grew up travelling to, and living in, many First Nations communities with her mother who worked as a teacher. Since she was in Grade 10, Aaryn has lived in Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Despite all of this travel, Aaryn has managed to stay grounded by spending all of her free time with her robotics team. This fall, Aaryn will enter her first year of the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Toronto.

Jay Benedict Memorial Award Winner – Bohdana Innes

Bohdana grew up in Wawa, Ontario, but travelled back and forth between Moose Factory and Wawa. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, fishing, beading, wood making and carving. Bohdana works with First Nation communities across Ontario and will soon be one of the 20 registered Indigenous architects in Canada. One day Bohdana hopes to develop an all Indigenous architecture and construction firm that will work with First Nation communities throughout Northern Ontario. She is currently enrolled in a Masters of Architecture program at Laurentian University and anticipates her graduation in April 2022.

Student Achievement Award Winner – Chantel Desrochers

Chantel is a registered member of Beausoleil First Nation and has been living in Sudbury for the past five years to be close to her university. She has used her education and work experience to obtain employment in her community as their Community Climate Monitoring Liaison in the Lands and Resources Department. Chantel managed the climate change project that addressed adaptation measures pertaining to the two identified climate vulnerabilities of wind and water. Her goal is to work in her home community’s Lands and Resources Department.

Student Achievement Award Winner – Megan Laroche

Megan Laroche is a member of Moose Cree First Nation where she attends the Gathering of Our People, every summer. When she graduates from the Environmental program at Cambrian College in June 2021, Megan plans to work with her First Nation in the Environment department and wants to help in meetings and discussions with resource development companies.

To mark this year’s awards, OFNTSC is holding a fundraising Golf Day event on September 13 to celebrate the winners.