New Bursary supports Indigenous students
Professor Raymond Sewell MA'14
Saint Mary’s University furthers Indigenous student support with a new bursary
Indigenous students at Saint Mary's University are receiving more opportunities for financial support through a new bursary.
Made possible through a generous donation from Saint Mary’s University Board of Governors member and alumnus Richard Flynn EMBA’97 and his wife Nancy, the endowed bursary will be awarded annually starting this Fall. The Richard and Nancy Flynn Bursary for Indigenous Students will be available to Indigenous undergraduate students enrolled in any program at Saint Mary’s who are in financial need and meet the minimum academic requirements. The bursary was created in honour of Richard Flynn’s late mother, whose ancestry was Newfoundland Mi’kmaq.
“Saint Mary’s is committed to advancing support for Indigenous students. We recognize that Indigenous students may face barriers in accessing and completing their education, and we are focusing on expanding the resources available to them,” says Saint Mary's University President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “The Richard and Nancy Flynn Bursary for Indigenous Students is a special investment, which will help Saint Mary’s in its commitment to a more inclusive and improved student experience. We are very thankful for the generosity of Richard and Nancy Flynn.”
“Young people are our hope for a better and more tolerant future, and having the means, I feel compelled to make a contribution that will help our future leaders,” explains Flynn. “The bursary is our way of helping Saint Mary’s in its commitment to being an institution that encourages, supports and nurtures Indigenous students to aspire to life-long learning and recognize the importance of tolerance and diversity in society at large.”
Former Indigenous Student Advisor and Founder/Inaugural Chair of Atlantic Association of College & University Student Services (AACUSS) Indigenous Services Division at Saint Mary’s, Raymond Sewell MA'14, is thankful for the Richard and Nancy Flynn Bursary for Indigenous Students.
“I’m grateful for the creation of this new bursary, which will help support our Indigenous students,” Sewell says. “I’m really excited about the future cohorts that will receive this and what they will do. It’s part of our culture growing and blossoming at Saint Mary’s.”
Support for Saint Mary’s Indigenous students
Saint Mary’s is committed to recruiting more Indigenous students to the university and fosters an environment that reflects the important cultures, histories, and traditions of Indigenous students. In 2017, Sewell was appointed as Saint Mary’s first full-time Indigenous Student Advisor situated in the Indigenous Student Centre. In this role, he welcomed, supported and engaged with Indigenous students helping them navigate the transition to university. “My door was always open to everyone. I helped students with any issues they had and took the time to connect them with support and services,” Sewell explains. “That could be writing centre support, mental health issues, career services, anything really. I troubleshooted with the student, figured out what they needed and helped them.”
Third-year Bachelor of Arts student Spencer Morris experienced barriers to university. He was the first person in his family to obtain a post-secondary education and like many students, he required financial support. Morris was also navigating post-secondary as a person with a disability. Connecting with the indigenous student advisor and receiving guidance and support made a significant difference for him and his academic experience.
“At first, I was anxious to put myself out there and look for the resources available,” says Morris. “The Indigenous Student Advisor understood how higher education could be daunting or even frustrating for Indigenous students, and he made me feel heard and understood. He helped me by being extremely knowledgeable, approachable, and full of resources and connections on and off-campus.”
In June 2019, Saint Mary’s took another step forward on the path towards reconciliation by signing an important memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre (MNFC), which has strengthened connection and collaboration. Saint Mary’s consults MNFC on developing appropriate protocols for on-campus activities and enhancing support for Indigenous students, faculty and staff. Part of the agreement was providing an Elder on Campus, Elder Debbie Eisan, four hours per week.
For more information on the Indigenous Community at Saint Mary’s University, please visit https://www.smu.ca/indigenous-community/welcome.html
For information on bursaries, scholarships, and awards available to Indigenous students, please visit https://www.smu.ca/indigenous-community/financial-aid.html