BC Orca Bursary Program



BC Orca Bursary LogoThe BC Orca Bursary Program: supporting the post-secondary goals of former youth in care

About | Donate or apply | Recipients

The BC Orca Bursary Program was established in 2021 by a generous group of local philanthropists. They aim to provide financial and other support to current or former youth in government (foster) care who are pursuing post-secondary studies. Thanks to their generosity, bursaries were awarded to 27 recipients in 2023.

To some West Coast Indigenous peoples, the orca whale symbolizes “family.” The BC Orca Bursary program’s name and logo reflects the desire of its founding philanthropic families to connect ambitious young people with the support of caring adults.

Their long-term goal is to partner with AFABC to grow the number of bursaries offered over time, and to create a multi-year program that will provide additional supports—such as mentorship, internships and summer jobs, and other tools—to bursary recipients.

More than 5,000 children and youth are in foster care in BC, and over 500 youth “age out” of care yearly. Some pursue post-secondary studies with help from the BC University Tuition Waiver Program, which funds their tuition and fees at BC universities and trade/technical schools. These students overcome many hurdles to pursue their educational dreams. Their expenses beyond tuition and fees are considerable.

Bursary recipients can put funds towards any expense related to attending a vocational, trade, or academic post-secondary program. Examples include school fees, living expenses, childcare, computers, textbooks, health care, or equipment.

This flexibility means that youth who qualify for tuition waivers or Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) funding can still benefit from the bursaries.

The BC Orca Bursary Program builds on the legacy of Peggy Howard, who founded AFABC’s first bursary program, the Howard Legacy Youth Fund, over a decade ago. With Peggy’s blessing, the Howard Legacy Youth Fund was incorporated into the Orca Bursary Program in 2022.

“I could never have envisioned such expansion of the project started a decade back,” says Peggy. “It is overwhelming and heartwarming to think of all the many lives that will benefit from this initiative.”

The BC Orca Bursary Program logo was designed by Haida artist Cori Savard

For information on eligibility and how to apply for the BC Orca Bursary Program, please visit bcadoption.com/bursary.

AFABC is actively fundraising for its bursary programs. To donate to the BC Orca Bursary Program:

2023 Recipients

The Adoptive Families Association of BC is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the BC Orca Bursary Program. This year, we awarded bursaries to 27 individuals!

* All recipients were given the option to share their stories anonymously. Some chose to do so and are referred to as “Recipient D,” “Recipient E,” etc.

1. Alexandra is currently enrolled in the Business Administration program at Okanagan College. She chose this program because she sees it as a solid start to furthering her academic pursuits. She has chosen to specialize in marketing, hoping to enroll in a graphic design or psychology program in the future. Her reference comments that she is driven, ambitious, intelligent, practical, and knows what she wants in life.

2. Recipient B is pursuing her certification as a dental assistant at Okanagan College. She intends to graduate from this one-year program and continue her studies as either a dental hygienist or begin the path toward a doctorate to become a dentist. She is committed and dedicated to creating a bright future for herself and helping those around her. Her reference says she is a contributing community member and a role model to her friends.

3. Recipient C is pursuing a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. He chose this program because he feels environmental stewardship has compelled him to become a leader in combating the climate crisis, creating a more sustainable future, and preserving the natural world. His reference describes him as a thoughtful person who cares deeply about his team, organization, restoration, and equity building in his chosen field.

4. Recipient D is currently a student at Douglas College, enrolled in the Associate of Arts program, majoring in psychology. She feels strongly that education will give her the tools to build a healthy and happy future. She opted for this field of study with the intention of pursuing a career as a counselor for children and youth, as she feels a profound connection to this area and desires to contribute to the community by offering support to youth in need. Her reference echoes this commitment, noting her passion for learning and helping others.

5. Recipient E has completed a Health Care Assistant Training program and is currently studying to become a nurse. He has worked in healthcare at a care home and will continue this work while in nursing school. After nursing school, he would like to further his training as a medical radiologist. His reference says that he has a genuine desire to support others on their health and wellness journeys with compassion, empathy, and respect for everyone.

6. Courtney has always envisioned a future for themselves in the healthcare profession, so they have chosen to enroll in the Northern Collaborative Nursing program. Courtney is one year into their program, and upon completing it, they would like to practice in a community where they can provide better healthcare services to those in need. Courtney’s reference describes them as hardworking, determined, ambitious, and someone who consistently demonstrates their potential for future success.

7. Recipient G has earned her Social Service Worker Diploma and is now pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Northern British Columbia. Her natural ability to empathize and relate to people is what drew them to the field of social work. She plans to work with at-risk youth in the community through forensic social work or youth probation to support youth at critical times in their lives. Her reference notes that she embodies the fundamental competencies needed to become a successful social worker.

8. Recipient H is pursuing a degree in General Studies at Thompson Rivers University. Upon completion, he plans to continue his academic studies in the field of social work at the University of Victoria. He has always been passionate about helping others and looks forward to working in a field that supports youth. His reference believes that he has all the necessary skills, the right personality, and the determination to excel in this field and make a difference in many lives.

9. Dylan is currently working towards completing his Red Seal Automotive Technician Program Levels 1-4 at BCIT. In high school, he developed an interest in auto mechanics, where he discovered a passion for engines and how they operate. Dylan plans to pursue a career as a heavy-duty equipment mechanic after graduation. He is currently gaining apprenticeship experience working with a large automotive company. His reference describes Dylan as a responsible adult who can create meaningful relationships and is accountable for himself.

10. Recipient J is working toward completing her Bachelor of Social Work at Thompson Rivers University. She is working toward completing her fourth-year practicum placement in the area of child protection. Afterward, she intends to obtain her C6 delegation to work as a child protection social worker. She believes strongly in the value of culturally sensitive relationships. Her reference describes her dedication, work ethic, inquisitiveness, and curiosity as just a few qualities they admire.

11. Isa is excited to continue their academic journey in the Social Service Worker Diploma program at Selkirk College this September. Isa has always been drawn to supporting people and believes that her background and natural empathic skills will help her to be of service to others in this field. Isa hopes to enter the child and youth care services field as a support worker, where she can positively impact the lives of others. Isa’s reference describes her as a kind, caring, compassionate young adult working hard to better her future.

12. Jaiden first became interested in the field of welding by observing other welders at work and seeing what they could do. He is currently enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley, completing his foundations course with the intent to move on to his Level B Jaiden plans to make a career in this trade by obtaining his Red Seal certification. Jaiden’s reference believes he is determined to build a life and career that he loves in the community of his choice.

13. Jorden is currently enrolled in the University of British Columbia Okanagan and pursuing a Bachelor of Arts. Jorden is determined to complete his undergraduate studies because, upon graduation, he intends to pursue a law degree. He would like to open an Indigenous-owned law practice one day. His reference strongly feels that Jorden has what is needed to succeed in his chosen field and believes that our world will be better for the gifts he can give.

14. Recipient N’s lifelong dream has been to attend nursing school and become a registered nurse, possibly even a travel nurse. Upon graduation from high school, he will begin his studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. He looks forward to combining his care for people with his love of travel. His reference highlights his enthusiasm, hard work ethic, and empathy for others, firmly believing that these qualities will serve as the foundation for his future success.

15. Recipient O is working toward completing her Bachelor of Social Work degree at the University of the Fraser Valley, and she cannot wait to start her career. She is involved in her community in other voluntary capacities, and her commitment to helping others is evident to those around her. Her reference notes that she is deeply passionate about helping others and has a gift for engaging people and making them feel at ease.

16. Throughout high school, Kira was attracted to various leadership programs, both within and outside of the school. She is now enrolled at the University of Victoria, pursuing a Bachelor of Psychology degree. She plans to complete a master’s in counselling and is keen to pursue a career in both the public and private sectors, supporting clients through nature-based private practice and working in the community with high-risk youth. Kira’s reference describes her as responsible, kind, trustworthy, and hardworking.

17. Muskaan is attending the University of British Columbia, working toward her Bachelor of Psychology degree. Once she has completed this program, Muskaan intends to apply for a master’s degree in counselling psychology, also at UBC. She is committed to eliminating the stigma many youth in and from care face and will continue her advocacy work during her university studies. Muskaan’s reference describes her as enthusiastic and highly adaptable and admires her passion for impacting youth.

18. Recipient R is pursuing a Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She is passionate about giving back to people and recognizes the significance of advocating for those grappling with mental health challenges. After graduation, she plans to join the RCMP or work in corrections before working in a more specialized police unit. Her reference describes her as an upstanding and empathetic person who works incredibly hard.

19. Recipient S is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Langara College. She is interested in specializing in pediatrics and hopes to gain experience working at BC Children's Hospital. In the future, she would like to practice nursing in rural and remote communities that require additional support. Her reference notes that she has a passion for nursing that is evident in her dedication to her work and academic achievements.

20. Sim is a psychology student at the University of British Columbia. Through hard work and commitment, Sim completed her GED, enrolled at Langara, and subsequently transferred to UBC. She volunteers with multiple youth advocacy groups, advocating for better support for youth in and from care. She hopes to focus her career on supporting the mental and medical health of vulnerable communities. Sim’s reference believes that she will have a positive impact on the community and make a difference in the lives of many people.

21. Recipient U has a passion for education and would like to pursue a career as a secondary school teacher, where they can positively impact young people. They have completed their first year at the University of the Fraser Valley, working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree. Their reference describes them as compassionate, empathetic, and skilled in connecting with people from diverse backgrounds.

22. Upon graduating from secondary school, Taio completed an Accounting Diploma and began working in the field of sales. He is currently enrolled in college and working toward his Bachelor of Business degree. Taio’s goal is to work in sales and marketing. He would like to one day incorporate his love of the outdoors with this career. His reference shares that Taio is driven to succeed and not afraid of taking on new challenges.

23. Recipient W is currently studying criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley and would like to pursue a blended degree in criminology and psychology one day. Ultimately, she plans to complete a master’s in psychology and become a clinical psychologist specializing in the criminal justice system. Her reference comments on her strong passion for social justice and community, noting that her chosen path ideally aligns with these passions.

24. Taylor is working toward completing her Bachelor of Integrated Science at the University of British Columbia. Her ultimate goal is to practice pediatric psychology and focus on improving outcomes for youth in care with brain-based challenges. She is passionate about improving resources and support for former youth in care and volunteers with multiple community resource agencies and mentorship programs. Taylor’s reference comments on her kindness, compassion, warmth, and resilience.

25. Recipient Y has completed a Bachelor of Digital Media degree at Vancouver Island University and will commence a Master’s in Business Administration this fall. She loves media and marketing and sees herself one day heading up large-scale marketing campaigns for businesses in the Lower Mainland. Her drive to succeed is apparent in all she does, and her reference also comments on her positive attitude, strong work ethic, and outstanding interpersonal skills.

26. Thomas is starting a program through Thompson Rivers University, where, upon completion, he will earn a Water Treatment Operations Certificate. He aims to gain hands-on experience working in the field and let this experience guide his further pursuits. Thomas has never let the obstacles in front of him prevent him from pursuing a stable and happy life. His reference refers to Thomas as an independent, resilient, respectful, and motivated individual.

27. Recipient Z is a student at the University of British Columbia, working toward his degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on renewable energy and solar technology. His goals for the future include working with Tesla, developing low-cost LEDs and assistive technology for struggling communities in remote areas, and continuing to help create a more sustainable future. His reference highlights his resilience and creativity in seizing opportunities as key factors contributing to his success.

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