The Zach Sutherland & Kaya Firth Resiliency Foundation awards educational Scholarships of $1500 each for post-secondary education pursued at the university, college or trade apprenticeship level. It is open to Canadian youth (age 17-24) who have found resiliency through grieving the loss of a loved one. We believe that young people who have experienced the loss of someone they love deserve to have their experience witnessed, and by sharing their story of how they cultivated their own resilience can light the way for others.
Our Message to Potential Applicants:
Your story can be healing for others and the telling of it can be healing for you. If you feel called to share your journey with us, we want to hear about the ways you have discovered to navigate your way through grief and find resilience within yourself. We also want to learn about how you felt supported by whatever community helpers came to your aid; friends, family, medical or therapy professionals, coaches or strangers who became friends. We also understand that revisiting such a painful time, regardless of how recent or long ago it was, can activate uncomfortable and difficult emotions and we encourage you to seek any support you may feel you need should this occur.
Our message to you is that you are not alone in your grief and you hold within you the capacity to heal, to rebuild, to redefine a life for yourself that integrates both your journey with grief as well as the relationship with the person you love so dearly who has passed. Nobody volunteers for this kind of growth, and by sharing your story so generously with others, we can all learn and grow together.
Applications for 2023 Scholarships are being accepted from March 15 2023 to May 1 2023. Scholarship recipients will be announced June 15, 2023.
To apply, please share your story of resilience with us in written form and include your name, contact information (email address, mailing address and phone contact) as well as your plans for post-secondary education.
You can send your resiliency story and your contact information to us at the email address below:
Please know that all submissions will be treated with strict confidence and will be only read by the Selection Committee.
If you prefer to submit your story in video or audio file format, please contact us by email and we can make arrangements for that.
How Scholarship Recipients are chosen
Each year, members of our Board volunteer to participate on the Selection Committee, which reviews every application and responds personally to each one. Our Board members have all experienced profound grief, so have an understanding of how individual and pervasive grief can be.
Following the close of the application window, the committee meets several times to review and discuss in confidence the stories, with a clear understanding that each one has value and deserves recognition and respect. Recipients are selected based on their choice to find resilience through their grieving process, how they are integrating the loss into their lives and their willingness to share this growth with others.
Our intention is to provide a platform to recognize and share these stories via this website. To respect privacy and each recipient’s own comfort level with this public forum, only enough detail is provided to give context of the nature of the loss, with the focus on their cultivation of resilience to move forward in their lives.
Attention to the How the Foundation Came to Be and Previous Recipients sections may help applicants prepare their submissions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I apply if…
I have experienced a lot of adversity in my life, however I have not lost anyone close to me.
We acknowledge that other forms of loss and adversity also require the cultivation of resilience, however these scholarships are specifically for young people experiencing grief related to the loss of a loved one.
I am not yet in my final year of high school.
Not yet, but please consider applying in your final year.
I have had a gap between high school and my postsecondary education.
Yes, definitely. Often a significant loss will interrupt plans and require that you take time to heal before resuming your educational path. We fully understand this and encourage you to apply.
I am partway through my university/college program (or have completed undergrad and am beginning graduate studies).
Yes, any year of postsecondary qualifies, including graduate level.
I applied previously and was not selected to receive a scholarship.
Yes, please feel free to reapply. The scholarship selection committee has the daunting task of reading and responding to many applications each year, so not being selected previously does not reflect on the degree or importance of your resilience.
The significant person I lost is not a relative or family member.
Absolutely, please apply. We understand that the bonds that connect people are not always defined by recognized labels and that close relationships are about the love shared between people.
I do not have any financial hardships.
Yes, please apply. Financial need is not a requirement for this scholarship. We see value in the recognition of your resilience and the sharing of your story.
I know Kaya and/or Zach’s families.
Yes, please apply. Zach and Kaya have had a profound impact in the community during their lives and since their passing. We believe that the ripple effect of sharing the message of resiliency is passed on through personal connections.
My postsecondary education plans are for training in a trade apprenticeship program.
Yes, please apply. All recognized postsecondary programs including trade apprenticeships, college and university level are eligible.
I am an international student studying at a Canadian educational institution.
No, currently the scholarships are available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.