SIFE Brandon Students Making Their Mark

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BRANDON, MB — The contribution of two Brandon University students — Alisa Oakey and Erika Berthelot — has not only been acknowledged, but adopted by the federal Task Force on Financial Literacy. After meeting with individuals like Oakey and Berthelot, from across the country, the Task Force’s final report was made public last month.

In April 2010, Oakey and Berthelot, who are Brandon University Business Administration students and members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), went to Winnipeg to meet with the Task Force. The group heading this national investigation included Donald Stewart, the CEO of Sun Life Financial Inc., Jacques Ménard, the chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns, and Evelyn Jacks, the president of Knowledge Bureau, among others.

“It was one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Oakey, who added that the BU SIFE group was the only Western Canadian SIFE group to be invited to speak with the Task Force. “For me to sit down with top CEOs of multinational corporations and individuals of influence in the private sector was inspirational. Our recommendations were valued and well received, and we were mentioned in their daily blog that day.”

In fact, the two young women so impressed the task force that one of the ideas they had suggested was adopted. On page 70 of the document, there is a pull quote that is one of the points the young women had proposed. “Basic financial information needs to be simplified and easily accessible so that anyone can use it.” Though the fact that the group is from Brandon University was omitted, the quote is attributed to Students in Free Enterprise.

“We’ve been recognized for our contribution! It’s a pretty fantastic feeling that our input was integrated into the overall recommendations to improve the financial literacy of Canadians,” said Oakey, who launched the financial literacy arm of SIFE at BU. “I feel like I can do anything now. I can help people understand more.”

In fact, Oakey and her colleagues have already started helping in this community. Along with contacting the high schools and working with the career counselors there as well as holding budgeting and money managing session on campus for Brandon University students, Oakey and several other SIFE members have been working with the Westman Immigrant Services (WIS). The students have been delivering what they have entitled Westman Immigration Settlement Enhancement Program (W.I.S.E.) to great success. In 2010, during more than 100 volunteer hours, the W.I.S.E. Program helped 131 people.

“For our immigrants, it’s really important to get information in order for them to make decisions. The SIFE students have provided them with that financial information to make decisions like taking out a mortgage,” said Sandra Carballo, the Settlement Team Leader at the WIS. “The work (the students) have done with us is very, very important. They’re amazing young people who are working really hard to make a change. They’re well prepared, knowledgeable and professional when they do presentations. They have done an excellent job.”

The entire SIFE Brandon group — 22 members — will be heading to Calgary this weekend for the SIFE Western Canada Regional Championships. There are three challenges in which the local group will compete: entrepreneurship, green (environmental) and financial education. Oakey and her colleagues will be presenting their W.I.S.E. program as well as Money Matters, a financial literacy tool kit designed for low income individuals, at the competition. The Brandon University business students have also partnered with Maple Leaf, the Assiniboine Regional Health Authority, Child and Family Services and others for the distribution of this kit.

To read more about SIFE, visit

For more information, contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB
R7A 6A9


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