First Nations student wins award

February 23, 2006, vol. 35, no. 4
By Diane Luckow

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A keen interest and participation in her First Nations community, coupled with her academic achievements and leadership skills has earned third-year political science and anthropology student Amy Parent a $5,000 in-course excellence award for 2005-06 from the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

She is among 100 winners from across Canada to receive this highest level of excellence award.

Parent, from the Nisga'a nation in northwestern B.C., decided to further her education at SFU after conducting a two-year education pilot project for the non-profit Urban Native Youth Association.

The project goal was to increase First Nations students' graduation rates in the Vancouver school district by 20 per cent. Working to create homework clubs - that still continue today, without funding - is what inspired her to return to school.

"It all gave me a really good look at the social issues that aboriginal people face in an urban community and how much more there needs to be done at a higher policy level - and that I needed to go back to school," she explains.

At SFU, Parent is a council member for the First Nations Student Association, which supports First Nations students who are returning to school. She also continues to work with the Urban Native Youth Association, sitting on a capital campaign committee to raise funds for an aboriginal youth building in the Downtown Eastside.

Parent has strong views on aboriginal education and plans to pursue a master's degree at UBC. "We need to take control of education," she says, "and bring parents and elders into the classroom more and create a stronger cultural component."

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