The mission of the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation is to increase the number of Indigenous students graduating from pure and applied science, engineering, and mathematics programs in Canada.
The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation addresses the under-representation of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students at Canadian universities. One of the factors contributing to this is the lack of academic role models for Indigenous students.
The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation Program develops motivated role models who foster the importance of graduating from high school and obtaining a postsecondary education. Our Foundation addresses this by offering scholarships to Indigenous students in grades 11 and 12 to spend a week at a Canadian university, interacting with scientists in their research laboratories. During the week of instruction on campus, students have the opportunity to meet role models, learn about the support systems available on campus and experience the excitement of doing research.
REMEMBERING TONY WILLIAMS
It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of our long-time Chair of the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation (VJKF) Board of Directors, Tony Williams. Surrounded by family, he passed away peacefully on June 27, 2023, in Okotoks, AB.
Before retiring, Tony provided actuarial and investment consultation for First Nation Settlement Trusts and other trust funds. During his retirement, he devoted much of his free time to volunteering and philanthropic work. In 2022, Tony was presented an Eagle Feather in recognition of his work with VJKF and Indigenous communities, and was gifted the name Necetenmnin, meaning “Leader.”
Tony had a passion for promoting higher education and established several bursaries at the University of Manitoba to support Indigenous students enrolled in science programs. He was a member of U of M Alumni Council, the Dean of Science's External Advisory Board, and a member of the Wawatay Advisory Board (a program supporting emerging Indigenous students).
We will be forever grateful for Tony’s dedication to our organization and his friendship. He led the Foundation through our growth years, through the COVID years, and now through the rebirth. Both wise and kind, and dear to us all. His presence will be deeply missed at our board meetings.
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