BC Orca Bursary Program

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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 this year 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, a total of $54,000 in bursaries was awarded to 19 recipients in 2022.

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:

2022 Recipients

The Adoptive Families Association of BC is pleased to announce the 2022 recipients of the BC Orca Bursary Program.

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

1. Sierra is completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Langara College and hopes to work as a registered nurse in the surgical ICU or surgical operating room. She aspires to later become a Nurse Practitioner to provide equitable care to marginalized communities. Her reference described her as diligent, patient, friendly, a quick learner, punctual, positive, and hard working.

2. Travis is completing his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. He aspires to work in Silicon Valley in the fields of renewable energy and solar technology and is passionate about bringing simple electrical systems to areas that do not have access to the essentials. His reference described Travis as driven, ambitious, resilient, and having a strong work ethic. 

3. Kastewin is currently completing her Associate degree in Biology at Capilano University. She hopes to transfer into the Bachelor of Science program in Biology at the University of British Columbia, to advance her goal of attending medical school to become a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or general practitioner. Her reference described Kastewin as resourceful, intelligent, determined, capable and mature.

4. Recipient D is completing his diploma in Accounting at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. He hopes to extend his time at BCIT by an additional year to achieve his bachelor’s degree in accounting in order to become a certified accountant in the future. His reference described him as an independent, impressive, compassionate, big hearted, goal-oriented person with a strong work ethic who carries himself in a respectful way. 

5. Recipient E is competing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, with hopes to enter the Master of Counseling Psychology program thereafter. She hopes to become a registered clinical counselor in British Columbia. The recipient’s reference describes her as resilient, committed, dedicated, compassionate, and goal-oriented.

6. Keana is completing her Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Human Resources at the University of Fraser Valley and hopes to pursue her master’s degree in Organizational Behaviour afterwards. Her career ambition is to find employment in the field of human resources, specializing in compensation and benefits, to create a stable life for herself and her younger sister, whom she is raising. Her reference describes her as perseverant, creative, motivated, independent, kind, and generous.

7. Chloe has recently her Bachelor of Arts at Thompson River University and is now furthering her studies in the Social Work Program. She hopes to work as a social worker to support and connect with other youth in care, to help them realize their full potential despite the challenges they face. Chloe’s reference described her as resilient, courageous, mature, hard-working, intelligent, empathetic and goal oriented. 

8. Maria is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioural Analysis, with a specialization in Autism. Her career goal is to become a behavioral consultant and hopes to continue her education at the graduate level to become a registered play therapist, with training in special education. Maria’s reference described her as passionate, driven, ambitious, and compassionate, with a strong desire to help children with autism like her brother.

9. Melinda is completing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Fraser Valley. She aspires to be a high school art or English teacher to become a support to youth who may not have anyone else, as her teachers were for her. Melinda’s reference described her as passionate, committed, resilient, strong, and a wonderful mother.

10. Kayla is completing her Social Services Worker Diploma at Northern Light College. She hopes to enter the Bachelor of Social Work program thereafter to become a registered social worker. As a social worker, she aspires to pursue her passion for social justice and helping at-risk members of her community. Her reference describes her as the strongest young lady she has event met, who has an enormous heart and has overcome insurmountable challenges.

11. Recipient K is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care Counselling at Douglas College. Her career goal is to give back meaningfully to her community by becoming a youth worker and teaching like skills. Her reference describes her as determined, compassionate, and dedicated to making the care experience better for all those in it.

12. Elanis is completing her Bachelor of Social Work at Thompson River University. She hopes to become employed at a government child welfare agency or a delegated Aboriginal agency. She has a special interest in Métis adoptions and permanency. She is currently working as a researcher at a delegated Métis child welfare agency. Her reference described her as dedicated, hard working, a strong communicator, inquisitive, and accountable.

13. Allie is completing her bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology at the University of Victoria. She hopes to become a teacher as she is passionate about changing the lives of others via the classroom. Allie’s reference describes her as a resilient, insightful, hard-working, determined, and a person who is regularly involved in the community.

14. Recipient N is completing their Bachelor of Social Work at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and plans to get their Master’s degree in social work. They hope to become a counsellor who works with homeless, queer, and Indigenous communities. Their reference described them as a mentor and leader, kind, hard-working, motivated, driven and determined.

15. Recipient O is completing her Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Her career goal is to work for the Vancouver Police Department to help protect the community. Her reference described her as the right candidate for this bursary, and deeply committed to bettering her community.

16. Brooklyn is completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Thompson River University. She continues to use her hardships as motivation to help others and be a leader. She aspires to become a nurse to help her community. Brooklyn’s reference describes her as inspiring, compassionate, motivated, enthusiastic, and an exceptionally hard worker.”

17. Recipient Q (funding being held until January program acceptance). Recipient Q has applied for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Vancouver Community College. She already holds her diploma in licensed practical nursing. She hopes to become a nurse so she can help with the shortage of healthcare workers for those in need. Her reference described her as dependable, responsible, hard-working, warm, lighthearted, and a great communicator.

18. Dalila is completing her Bachelor of Political Science at Simon Fraser University and is considering pursuing a legal degree. Her career ambition is to engage in activism, policy change, and nonprofit work. Her reference describes her as self-motivated, reliable, detail-oriented, and collaborative, with a great attitude and excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

19. Dylan is completing his Red Seal Automotive Technician Foundation Apprenticeship at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where he will gain the skills to become a certified mechanic. Dylan values having a good education, as it will set him up for a successful future. His reference describes him as a leader who is punctual, dedicated, collaborative, and committed. 

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Find out more about eligibility and how to apply for the BC Orca Bursary Program.