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    Centre supports women studying off campus

    For more than 40 years, the Ban Righ Centre (BRC) has served as an on-campus resource for women, especially mature women returning to Queen’s.

    [Andrea Bennett]
    Andrea Bennett, who lives on Manitoulin Island, has received support from the Ban Righ Centre while completing the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program. 

    Students don’t necessarily have to visit the brown brick building on Bader Lane to access the centre’s services, though. In recent years, the centre has increased its efforts to support women who are completing their Queen’s degree online while juggling multiple responsibilities such as work and children.

    “I am so fortunate that I found the Ban Righ Centre, which recognizes the hardships we have to battle against when we are down,” says Andrea Bennett, who is completing the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program while living on Manitoulin Island. “Ban Righ Centre staff are always there for me and seem to say the right thing even when I am in despair.”

    Following the death of her husband, Ms. Bennett faced the challenge of raising four children along with work and school. She struggled financially because student aid wasn’t an option and she wasn’t eligible for government funding as a non-status Indian.

    She never lost sight of her dream of becoming a teacher. The centre recently supported Ms. Bennett’s goal by presenting her with the Dorothy Matheson Parnell Bursary, which is awarded on the basis of financial need with a preference given to single mothers.

    Drawing strength from other women

    Like Ms. Bennett, Carrie Dean encountered obstacles that nearly derailed her post-secondary education dreams. Seventeen years after completing one year at Brock University, Ms. Dean resumed her studies and is currently completing her Queen’s psychology degree by distance.

    Ms. Dean says she draws strength from the centre as she and her husband raise four children and she works full time as a clinical team secretary with the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.

    [Carrie Dean]
    Through her connection with the Ban Righ Centre, Carrie Dean has found strength knowing there are other women pursuing a post-secondary education while juggling multiple responsibilities.

    “The Ban Righ Centre has reminded me that I am by no means alone in my pursuits,” says Ms. Dean, who received the Elizabeth Wallace Bursary from the Queen’s Women’s Association. “Simply knowing there are other women experiencing similar situations is comforting.”

    Accessing education can be a real challenge for women with multiple responsibilities, says Ms. Morrison. While students on campus have more opportunities to learn about resources from their peers, women taking online courses may struggle to find the right service at the right time.

    “To help bridge any existing gaps, the Ban Righ Centre is reaching out to women who are accessing online learning,” Ms. Morrison says. “In some cases, the centre has been able to provide over-the-phone advice and support as well as emergency bursaries.”

    Ms. Bennett and Ms. Dean were recognized along with many other women at the centre’s spring celebration held May 2. The annual event celebrates the perseverance, courage and dedication of mature women at Queen’s who overcome barriers and juggle multiple roles while pursuing their education.

    Visit the Ban Righ Centre website to learn more about the organization and the services it provides.