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Entry award for Aboriginal students created thanks to gift

Thanks to a generous gift of $1 million from Birch Hill Equity Partners, Smith School of Business has established an award to be given each year to an Aboriginal student entering the Queen’s Commerce program.

[Birch Hill]The Birch Hill Equity Partners Achievement Award provides $9,000 annually, renewable in each of the program’s four years. It is granted on the basis of demonstrated financial need, academic achievement, leadership skills and involvement in school or community activities.

Helping to open doors for Aboriginal youth is a priority for Birch Hill, especially given its role as a National Partner of the Prince’s Canadian Responsible Business Network. This organization, founded by Prince Charles, is dedicated to being a catalyst for increasing employment opportunities for youth in underserved neighbourhoods across Canada. In collaboration with Aboriginal agency partners, Birch Hill was involved in mounting an Aboriginal Career Market in October 2015 that attracted 241 job seekers and 33 employers. 

“Unemployment rates among Aboriginal youth between 19 and 24 are at unacceptably high levels, reported at nearly 23% in 2011,” says Birch Hill’s co-founder and partner, John MacIntyre (Com’78). “One of the barriers to success include a lack of family history in post-secondary education. Our hope is that this entrance award will encourage Aboriginal students to pursue a university education. Armed with a Queen’s Commerce degree, they’ll be well prepared to achieve success in their future careers.”

The inaugural recipient of the award will start classes in September 2016.