Susan Briscoe’s message to the community
Dear friends and colleagues,
I have sent many emails to you over the past few years about our First Peoples’ Initiative, inviting you to be involved in some way. This last request is a special one for me.
I had to resign from all my activities at the college this winter due to an aggressive terminal cancer diagnosis, but I wanted to find some way of continuing the work I had been so involved in with Dawson’s Journeys program and the First Peoples’ Initiative.
My idea has been to start a new yearly award for an Indigenous student at Dawson. The $1000 Journeys Award will recognize a Dawson student who self-identifies as Indigenous and demonstrates both a remarkable dedication to reaching their educational goals and a commitment to serving their community, as well as being a positive influence on their peers.
I am asking you to also make a contribution so this award can continue for many years to come. You can donate to the special First Peoples’ Award Fund created for this purpose with the help of the Dawson Foundation using this form:
A bit more about my motivation for creating this award:
Working with the First Peoples’ Initiative, developing and teaching in the Journeys program, and my SSHRC-funded research project on Indigenous students’ stories about their post-secondary education experiences were my major occupations for the past two years. These projects gave me the privilege of gaining a deeper understanding of the obstacles Indigenous students have to overcome both to gain access to and then succeed in college and university—colonial institutions that could be alienating to them in so many subtle ways. I got to see how resourceful and courageous these students are as they work to achieve their various educational goals and give back to their communities in their own unique ways. Every student has a different story, but each of them involves sacrifice and determination as well as success and pride. I have been deeply touched by each story, and I have such great admiration and respect for each student.
It was hard to leave my Journeys students this winter instead of seeing them through and onward as planned. I had also taught them in the first term and gotten to know them and their stories so closely, and I was so moved by how hard some of them had worked to get themselves into college and through this transition program. They are so bright, so brave, so determined. I saw how motivated they are to use their educations to make meaningful contributions to their communities. It was beautiful to witness, and I considered it a great honour and privilege to teach them. I am so proud of them, and I want to demonstrate that in some way. This award is my way of doing that.
I have made the first contribution of $5000 to get this dedicated fund started with the Dawson College Foundation. It is my hope to raise much more through your generous contributions so the award can be sustainable for the next several years, and that we could even give more awards, scholarships, and bursaries with extra fundraising. It is my hope that you will make a contribution to support an exceptional Indigenous student; I know that student has an even greater gift to give back to her community.