Nursing Student Awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Bursary

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posted December 21, 2011

Brandon, MB — The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) has acknowledged second-year nursing student Cynthia Fontaine’s efforts and has awarded her a $1,500 bursary. The mother of five children, Cynthia returned to post-secondary studies once her youngest was in school.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for the longest time, but I had always wanted to come back to university,” said Fontaine, who first attended Brandon University as an 18 year old. “I met my husband here, when he was getting his education degree. We fell in love and had all of these kids. Also, I didn’t know at the time what I really wanted to do.”

Caring for her children has, on occasion, necessitated visits to health care professionals. Along the way, she has seen practices with which she agrees and others of which she does not think very highly.

“I figured that maybe I’d like to make some changes, if I could. So, I decided to come back to university,” said the student, who has already started research into Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in First Nations peoples, an interest she hopes to finish in her fourth year. “Another thing made me want to return is the fact that one of my aunties, who was the same age as me, we had similar life situations, but she was depressed and committed suicide. That was my awakening.”

Though she acknowledges that life has been her greatest source of knowledge, Cynthia also wants to set a good example for her children, two of whom are poised to enter university, as well as be prepared for the future.

“I chose nursing because it’s a broad field. You can specialize in many areas, nurses are always in demand, and it’s pretty much a passport: You can go anywhere in the world with it,” she said. “And I love this university! It’s small and supportive, and it’s in a small community where I can raise my children in a safe environment.”

Cynthia is originally from the Grand Rapids First Nation, but has transferred to the Sagkeeng First Nation, which sponsors her and to which her husband belongs. Also, her status allowed her to apply for an NAAF bursary and she was pleased to have been selected for a bursary.

“I’m very pleased that Cynthia has received this support from NAAF to further her studies. It was great news to hear that she had received this bursary,” said Dr. Deborah Poff, the President and Vice-Chancellor of Brandon University. “The University is committed to providing a quality education for all students, including mature learners, like Cynthia. Bursaries and scholarship funds from organizations like NAAF further promotes this commitment.”

A nationally registered, non-profit organization, the NAAF is dedicated to raising funds to deliver programs that provide the tools necessary for Aboriginal peoples, especially youth, to achieve their potential. To find out more about the NAAF’s scholarship and bursary opportunities, visit

For more information, please contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB R7A 6A9
Tel. 204-727-9762



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