Three Tla’amin Nation students benefit from a scholarship program, established as the Lorraine Wilson (Timothy) Memorial Fund.
According to Wilson’s daughter, Cheryl Borgfjord, the scholarships were for students who want to continue their education at the post-secondary level or in the trades, in memory of her mother.
Borgfjord said she awarded two $1,700 scholarships in September to Jack Gustafson and Jeannie Leon. Gustafson is attending Vancouver Island University to pursue a career in the health care assistant program, Borgfjord said. She added that Leon has extensive training, with two degrees, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Yorkville University.
A third “surprise scholarship” of $700 has been awarded to Jasmin Menendez, who is in her second year of post-secondary education, pursuing a career in Indigenous youth and welfare, according to Borgfjord.
“It’s a win just to see how hard these students are working to improve,” Borgfjord said. “A lot of them want to come back and give back and help Tla’amin, which is a big bonus.”
Applicants were asked to write a 500-word essay about themselves and there were nine submissions for the scholarships, according to Borgfjord.
“The fields of study are so diverse,” she added. “Education was so important to my mother. She went to boarding school and attended four different schools from a young age, until she was 17. She left in 11th grade, then she had me. She was out of school for over 30 years.
Borgfjord said his mother enrolled at what was then known as Malaspina College [now Vancouver Island University] complete his studies in his mid-fifties.
“She was always improving academically,” Borgfjord said. “To see where she comes from and all that she has been through, that she has been able to retain the language and the culture meant a lot to her.”
Borgfjord said she has several fundraising businesses to help fund the scholarships. She originally hosted an online silent auction and had been working on the stock exchanges for over two years. She also put items up for sale on swap and online store forums and it all added up. She also received a generous donation of $500.
“The community support was so awesome,” Borgfjord said.
She said she was planning another silent auction before Christmas, with dates to be announced, to continue raising money for scholarships in the future. She believes these scholarships are the first of their kind and she wanted to find a way to honor her mother and keep her memory alive.
“It seemed like an appropriate thing,” she added.
She passed on a quote from her mother: “There is something to be said for education; it empowers/rewards and gives a sense of accomplishment. If I can do it, anyone can do it.