By Breanne Massey 
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The desire to study at Canadian universities has moved within reach for Métis women thanks to a non-profit governmental organization (NGO).

Modern Métis Woman offers scholarships to self-identifying Métis women who expect to study full-time at the post-secondary level. Applications from prospective candidates are due annually by Oct. 31.

“Modern Métis Woman offers scholarship opportunities that can further assist Métis identifying women that are, or will be, attending a University in Canada,” said Carleigh Milburn, founder and chief executive officer of Modern Métis Woman. “Art based scholarships are also offered to Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through our Instagram (page) @modernmetiswoman.”

Modern Métis Woman encourages women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning as well as two-spirit (LGBTQ2+) to apply for the scholarship each school year.

The organization began in 2017 with the goal of creating an inclusive support system for the learning community to honour people who want to be recognized for their Métis ancestry. The purpose of the Modern Métis Woman NGO is to support a safe and positive learning space that celebrates Indigenous women.

“The post-secondary scholarship is important as it supports the education of a Métis Woman. As an organization, we want to celebrate the astonishing achievements that have been accomplished by these applicants,” said Milburn. “Since the creation of Modern Métis Woman, we have been able to give out three post-secondary scholarships to identifying Métis Women who are in post-secondary education. As an organization, we hope to gain additional funds so that we can give out supplementary scholarships yearly to many more inspiring Métis women.”

The 2020 recipient of the Modern Métis Woman scholarship was Madelaine Desaulniers from Calgary, Alta. who is attending the University of Victoria (UVic) for a joint degree in Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders (JD/JID program).

Desaulniers had volunteered with The Calgary Food Bank, Calgary’s Drug and Rehabilitation Centre, the Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots Program in East Africa, and the Elizabeth Fry Society. Desaulniers hopes to become involved with policy decisions that assist the quality of life for Indigenous citizens.

Since it originated, Modern Métis Woman has grown in popularity and recognition within Canada. Milburn is currently the sole funder of the scholarship program but would welcome donations from others to expand the total value of scholarships to support the education goals of Métis women.

“Modern Métis Woman has grown tremendously, and we continue to gain support from various people, and communities around Canada. As an organization, we are so delighted that we can financially support brilliant Métis women, who are striving for positive change in their global communities,” said Milburn. “We are continuously looking to work with other organizations to promote the importance of Indigenous education for the advancement of decolonization. Since the inception of the organization back in 2017, we have been able to gain over 1,600 followers on Instagram, which displays the artwork submitted by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who support Modern Métis Woman goals, and scholarships.”

The application process requires a 1,000 to 1,500 word essay that answers three questions, such as: 1) What is your definition of the Modern Métis Woman? 2) How has your Métis heritage affected you on a personal level? 3) A topic of your choice that relates to Métis Women.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens who plan to attend a Canadian university full-time with a minimum of three courses per semester and identify as a Métis woman.

To learn more about the scholarships, please visit www.modernmetiswoman.com or connect with them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Those with questions may contact the founder and chief executive officer Carleigh Milburn at: carleigh@modernmetiswoman.com.