2017-21 Scholarship Recipients

2021 Scholarship Recipients

Alyssa K.

Alyssa KrygerAt the age of 17, Alyssa’s world was shattered when the vehicle that she, her Dad and her uncle were travelling in was struck by a cannabis-impaired driver. Alyssa sustained serious injuries and the crash claimed the lives of both her uncle and her father.  To help navigate the trauma and grief that ravished her family, they turned to MADD Canada to seek out support and resources. Alyssa resonated deeply with the message that these deaths were fully preventable, and decided to become actively involved with MADD.

Alyssa explains that “When it comes to impaired driving, education and awareness are the first steps in prevention.”   Alyssa has worked closely with both MADD Canada and Weed Out the Risk, and has offered her time, story, and voice to help bring awareness to the impacts that impaired driving crashes have on the victims and survivors. It is Alyssa’s hope that by sharing her story, it will help others to understand the dangers associated with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and help prevent other families from losing loved ones in similar preventable tragedies. As Alyssa explains, “If my story can help even one person to think twice and stop themselves or a friend from getting into a vehicle while impaired, then that in itself could be saving a life.”

Alyssa received a scholarship to support her studies at Ryerson University pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance, with a minor in Psychology.

Clare B.

Clare ButlerIn 2019, Clare’s close cousin passed by suicide. She describes the initial period of grief following his death as “pain-filled” and, as it was her first experience of losing someone she was close to, she was confronted with the reality of death. Through talking with her mom about concepts and beliefs surrounding death, Clare began to discover her own mental, emotional and spiritual  ideas related to it. She learned through this experience that healing comes through feeling, not hiding or shoving down, the array of emotions related to grief.

In 2020, Clare’s father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack and her life was changed forever. Unspeakable, deep pain consumed her and the days were a haze. She applied the coping skills and ideologies she had learned from her experience of her cousin’s passing and began talking about her feelings right away with those close to her. Joining a grief support group gave her hope and an outlet for her heartache. During their time of mourning, COVID restrictions actually resulted in a positive twist, in that  her Mom and siblings were all at home full time. For them, this fostered further strengthening of their family bond, gave room for expressions of their love for their dad and each other, and together they began to heal.

Clare was able to tap back into her values of hard work and perseverance as she focused on balancing her academic pursuits with her ongoing processing of her grief. She is a positive person by nature, and working through her painful emotions allowed her optimism and positive energy to resurface.

Clare received a scholarship to support her studies at Queen’s University in the Commerce program.

Indu A.

Indu Aujla 2Indu recognizes that the unexpected passing of her dad in 2019 due to his mental health battle with depression had a profound effect on her during her high school years.  She emphasized the conflicting burdens grief has on young people by stating, “ I grieved this profound loss while trying to still live the life of a normal teenager. I experienced many complex emotions that were difficult to comprehend and process all while trying to navigate high school.”

Indu credits the professional assistance of a counsellor to help her work through her grief, emotions and anxiety, as well as the active support of her teachers who assisted her in overcoming new academic challenges.  Indu is especially grateful for the love and encouragement provided by countless family and friends who continue to be present for her.

Indu reflected that remaining involved in activities, such as the school swim team, and participating in her community as a swim instructor and lifeguard were all important contributors to her healing.  Eventually, all these aspects of her life enabled her to regain confidence and academic abilities once again.

Indu stated, “Although losing my dad at a young age created new difficulties in my life, it also taught me important life lessons that I could not have learned any other way.” It took Indu a long time to get to this point in her healing journey. She went on to say, “ I know that my perseverance of working through my grief and it’s challenges shaped me into the resilient individual I am today.” She recognizes the ongoing nature of her healing, and is committed to self-discovery along the way. She takes the lessons of her dad’s life and his passing both guide her as she moves forward into her young adult life.

Indu received a scholarship to support her studies in Computer Science and Business at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Elham N.

Elham NumanWhen Elham was 16, her mother passed away following a short battle with a rare form of cancer. Up until that point, she and her mother were inseparable. In an attempt to make it easier on Elham, her mother and extended family hid the illness and it’s severity from her, only ever speaking of hopeful treatments and a good outcome. Although she understands the well-intentioned reasoning for this positive focus, she felt the shock for her was worse when her mother passed, as she was not privy to the true prognosis and genuinely expected her to recover. Elham did not give herself the time or opportunity to address her feelings of shock and grief, instead she stayed in constant motion, throwing herself into school in an attempt to make her mother proud as she pursued her undergraduate degree.

As pressures from school, life, family expectations added to her burden of unprocessed grief, Elham describes reaching a “breaking point” mentally and emotionally. She had to take more than one semester-long break and use the time to recuperate spiritually, financially, mentally, and academically. She spent those breaks taking many steps backwards and forwards: she returned to her studies on a part-time basis, worked a lot, volunteered her time in ways that would strengthen her interests in visual art, education, and communication, as well as honouring her mother by bringing kindness and caring to these activities

Elham sought out the help of a therapist, whom she began to see regularly. She describes this as a turning point for her. She learned how to put words to the emotions she had avoided feeling surrounding her loss. She describes unpacking her grief with her therapist as a process of “confusion and weirdness” that eventually helped her to see the importance of processing these very natural feelings. She feels that making the decision for herself to seek out therapy, at a time that she was ready for it, was an important step in developing her resilience.

After taking time to heal and through much self-exploration that resulted in a change of focus academically,  Elham returned to her full-time studies with a renewed sense of academic and career-minded success. She is committed to staying aware of her own mental health and continues to seek support as she needs it.

Elham received a scholarship to support her studies to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree double majoring in Art History and English.

Sydney H.

Sydney HussettGrowing up, Sydney was very high achieving, excelling as both a student and an athlete. Her mother, Marlene, was her role model and supported her dedication and achievements. Beautiful, funny, and caring, Sydney’s mother was her number one supporter and raised her to have a solid work ethic, treat everyone with kindness and respect, and enjoy life to the fullest.

In 2013,  Marlene was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. All of a sudden, Sydney’s world revolved around hospital visits, filling prescriptions, and taking care of her mother, who passed away in 2014. The absence Sydney’s mom left in her life was felt daily, in everyday small activities. She began to feel emotionally detached from everyone and everything. Accomplishments didn’t matter anymore. She distanced herself from friends and family, and avoided being home, as it reminded her of her mom’s absence.

Sydney began her undergraduate studies at  McMaster University, where she felt she began to address and process her grief. Her grief journey led her to embracing self-love and self-acceptance, finding gratitude and appreciating the positive things in her life, all of which helped her to heal. She put her focus on the effort she made in her studies, athletics and community involvement, balancing that with an awareness of her emotional needs. As she deepened this relationship with herself, she also strengthened relationships with  her father, sister and extended family by both giving and receiving support. She feels this honours her mother and Sydney knows that she continues to make her mother proud.

Sydney received a scholarship to support her studies at Yale University in the Masters of Public Health program.

2020 Recipients

Faith W.

When Faith was only four years old, her father passed from cancer. Faith describes the impact of the loss and how the vast part of her childhood memories don’t include her Dad’s physical presence. The missed opportunities of the role her dad would and should have played in her life growing up is a reality that will often arise when she is not expecting or prepared for it. She has come to know her father’s personality and love through open dialogue with family and friends, and this has allowed Faith to feel his compassionate and loving presence. Faith describes the unique challenge she has faced as she has grown older of guilt feelings that arise from not having her own direct memories of her Dad, yet having grown up feeling his absence in her life so acutely.

Born with bilateral cleft lip and palate necessitating a 20-year course of treatment, Faith has undergone multiple surgeries and therapies throughout her life. Due to the effect of these procedures on her physical appearance, she unfortunately experienced bullying. The emotional impact was heavy, yet it encouraged her to develop inner strength. She knows clearly who she is as a person and is dedicated to moving forward based on that positive foundation.

Faith credits her mother with having made her and her sister feel incredibly loved and for keeping her Dad’s memory very much a part of their lives. Faith has internalized this knowledge and her own health challenges to find resilience within herself, motivating her to live a life based on kindness, appreciation of simple pleasures and meaningful relationships.

Faith received a scholarship to support her studies at Ontario Tech University in the Nursing program.

Rebecca Y.

Rebecca describes herself as having a typical life growing up.  She attended her local high school, went to rugby practices and enjoyed a stable family environment.  This picturesque image changed instantly when her sister suddenly passed away.  Rebecca described herself as experiencing a flood of emotions;  feelings of anger, grief and hopelessness which she directed at the world, herself and the adults in her life.  She expressed that her life came to a “screeching halt”.

Rebecca took the time she needed to work through her emotions.  Eventually this time of self healing and acknowledgement of her loss provided her with renewed motivation.  “Suddenly, my goals had personal and emotional reasoning, for every late-night studying and early morning in the gym.  I wasn’t doing it for just myself but for those who had their lives cut short and for those who had to suffer a loss like I did.”  Rebecca expressed that she eventually learned, with the support of her family and those close to her, to embrace change and use her emotions to nurture her passions and goals.  She focused on athletics and playing rugby, a sport she loves. She believes this was one way of allowing her sister’s memory to continue to live on as part of her life.

Rebecca’s statement “although on paper, I am back to where I was before I lost her” reflects her realization that self-care and tending to her own mental health are important aspects of healing that don’t necessarily appear on the surface.

Rebecca received a scholarship to support her studies at the University of Ottawa in the Biopharmaceutical Sciences program, where she will also be playing for the University varsity women’s rugby team.

2019 Recipients

Dana M.

Dana MitchellDana’s father lost his lifelong battle with mental illness when she was only 7 years old.  Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide struggles with complex emotions, and this is only amplified when a child’s mind is forced to grapple with these unanswerable questions.  Dana lived with these difficult emotions throughout her childhood and adolescence, eventually developing her depression and anxiety.

During her first year of University, her emotional state and sense of hopelessness escalated to the point that she was unable to fully engage in or enjoy life.  Dana bravely asked for and received help, temporarily stepping away from her schooling in order to heal and regain control of her future.  She successfully returned to school at Queen’s University, completed her undergraduate degree, and was able to experience what she calls “some of the most joyful and fulfilling years of my life.”

Sadly, Dana experienced another shocking and unexpected loss in January 2019 when her boyfriend Josh passed suddenly.  She continues to navigate this fresh grief with the unconditional support of her family, friends and “the love of two incredible men that I will carry with me always.” Dana states, “It may not be perfect, but I have fought very hard for this life, and I will live it fully for those who are with me, for those who can’t be, and most importantly – for myself.”

Dana received a scholarship to support her studies at Ryerson University in the Literature of Modernity Master’s program.

Ross K.

ross-kelleher.jpgRoss describes his childhood growing up in Glen Williams as “idyllic”.  His parents were supportive and involved in all of his athletic, academic and personal endeavours.  When Ross was 11, his dad, Dave, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Ross grew up quickly as the family came together to adapt and support Dave and each other through his illness.  14 months after diagnosis, Dave passed away and Ross describes the “wilderness of grief” that ensued.  During this time, his strong relationships, particularly with his mom and his two sisters, grew and deepened even further. Ross states, “I am most proud of what we have faced together, staring adversity and grief in the face.”

Ross felt motivated by his parents’ support and rejoined the activities he loves,  excelling in academics, athletics and stage productions.  He says, “I know I have made both of my parents proud.”

Ross received a scholarship to support his studies in the Commerce program at Dalhousie University.

Meghan O.

Meghan OgramMeghan describes her family growing up as “strong, loving and seemingly unbreakable”. In 2014, her older brother Taylor passed suddenly as a result of a snowboarding accident and her family was catapulted into very individual paths through their grief. Meghan very honestly states “our grieving process was spent adjusting and learning each other’s way of coping with the loss of Taylor.  We all shared the same terrible loss but we each seemed to have very different ways of managing it.”

Meghan made a series of difficult choices, including changing schools in grade 10 and evolving in her thinking from not wanting anything to change to choosing to live in honour of Taylor and “encompass some of his incredible qualities.”  As she was focusing on establishing goals for herself, she had a series of losses of other members of her extended family. She states, “these wonderful people wanted the world for me and now I want to experience the world for them.” She chooses to live her life with kindness, seeing the best in people and giving the gift of her full presence to her encounters with others. These qualities as well as making an effort to bring people together show the impact Taylor’s life has had on her choice to be resilient.

Meghan received a scholarship to support her studies in the Medical Radiation Sciences program at McMaster University.

Maddison D.

Maddison DeverellMaddison grew up admiring her dad, his contagious smile, easy humour and his gift with horses.  Sadly, when Maddison was only 12 years old, her Dad passed away unexpectedly.  She expresses gratitude for the outpouring of love and support for herself, her brother and her Mom as they dealt with the shock and disbelief that accompanied their grief. What really marked this time for Maddison was the lack of resources available for young people experiencing grief.  She and her dad shared a love of horses, and she found spending time with horses a good way for her to begin to process her own grief. As she explored what grief upports and strategies are out there specifically for young people, she discovered that they do exist but aren’t necessarily readily available. As she accessed these resources herself, she felt a desire to help others in similar situations. She chose to do a semester long school project on researching  early grief resources for young people and created a “grief kit” to be made available through her school.

Maddison also began volunteering at horseback riding classes for people with disabilities, honouring her father’s memory while giving back to the community. She states “living daily life and seeing milestones go by without my dad here will never be easy and I have accepted that but I have also made it my goal that I will help others, I will make him proud and he will forever live on through me.”

Maddison received a scholarship to support her studies at the University of Waterloo in the Recreation Therapy program.

2018 Scholarship Recipients

Emily T.

Emily TurnerEmily describes her three brothers as her support system, her whole heart and her world.  She recalls how after their home burned down, her mom Cathy rebuilt a new home for them with what Emily describes as her “beautiful mind”.  Sadly, the house fire was only the beginning of the adversity Emily was to face in her young life.  When Emily was 11, her mom passed from a sudden and devastating infection.  Unfortunately, Emily’s dad was unable to adequately care for the children and Emily stepped into this caregiver role, especially for her two younger brothers.  Despite her best efforts, the children were removed from their father’s custody and Emily was faced with the reality that she would no longer be living with her brothers.

Emily wrote that “When we lost our mother, we lost warm arms and a kind voice, a contagious smile and our constant blanket of comfort, but most of all we lost the kind of love only an overworked, tired mother can supply”.

Through her teen years, Emily continued to focus on her relationship with her brothers while she worked hard in school and at her job.  She learned to accept the love and support of people in her life,  who were there for her unconditionally, giving her a place to live, loving her and helping to show her that she is so much more than her life circumstances.  She describes her mother’s friends, some family members and her own friends as her “circle that is my rock”, stating “they are there for me through my fears, through my sadness and they share my happiness.”

Emily has been told many times how strong she is, but she herself would rather focus on how happy she is. She wrote “We struggle but we also thrive, and we find the things that make us happy.  I live because others cannot and I love because I have people who also love me.  And I am happy.”

Emily received a scholarship to support her studies at Lakehead University in the Concurrent Education program.

Alicia M.

Alicia MarrowsAlicia’s older brother, Jeremy went  missing in 2014 while on a canoeing trip in Algonquin park with friends. For two interminable weeks, her family and friends cycled between hope and fear.  When they received the news that Jeremy had not survived,  Alicia’s initial reaction was to focus on her 11-year old younger sister, who idolized Jeremy. Alicia also focused on her parents and their grief, while unintentionally ignoring her own.

During this time, Alicia was finishing her final year in high school and then starting her freshman year at Seneca College.  With the best of intentions and trying to “be strong”, she pushed through and completed her program in 2016. Having experienced so many changes in such a small amount of time, she never allowed herself to process her loss and her own feelings surrounding Jeremy’s death.  Eventually this avoidance caught up with her and she found herself unfocused, unmotivated and unable to get a sense of direction for her own life.  She began to seek help from both traditional and non-traditional sources and felt that she was starting to “cope”, but not really to heal.

A turning point for Alicia came when she turned 21, the age Jeremy was at the time of his accident.  She made the choice to refocus on her herself, her love for Jeremy and her need to find some peace. After having tried to keep her own grief at bay, she was now choosing to face how she truly felt, and this is what began to lead her out of the dark space of deep grief. Believing that she is living and experiencing life for both herself and her brother allows Alicia to find happiness and purpose for herself. She intends to use her own experience to help others as they cope with grief and loss.

Alicia received a scholarship to support her further studies at Seneca College in the Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Psychology program.

Malcolm F.

malcolm30Malcolm grew up in a has faced  tenuous family situation and as a preschooler was removed from his mother’s custody and placed with his grandparents, who faced struggles of their own. Malcolm continued to have a relationship with his mother and recognized her struggles to the degree that a child could. His mom passed when he was 11, after which time Malcom’s extended family provided initial support but due to their own struggles, placed Malcolm in foster care as a teenager.

Malcolm provides multiple examples from his young life of choosing to accept choices and behaviours from others that he was unable to understand. He somehow saw that turning instead to anger and judgement of them would further impact him in a negative way. In accepting them and their imperfections, he was able to maintain relationships initially with his mom and later with his extended family, despite their inability to house and care for him.

Instead of becoming bitter and resentful,  Malcolm chose to continue to make the best of his life circumstances, becoming involved in sports and experiencing teamwork and the support of friends, teachers, coaches and his Social Worker.  He has been involved in the Mentor Program at his high school, providing support and listening to younger students who are struggling with various challenges.  Malcolm has used his life experience to find resilience within himself and to help others to find their way.

Malcolm has a close relationship with his foster Mom, who has helped him to feel truly cared about.  He expresses such genuine gratitude to her and to all the people who have supported him along the way.

Malcolm received a scholarship to support his studies at the University of Windsor and is interested in the field of Social Work.

Eion Campbell Memorial Scholarship

Eion’s Story

Eion’s Dad Kevin passed unexpectedly when Eion was only six.  His mother Andrea raised Eion and his older brother Richard to be compassionate young men who knew from a young age what matters most in life.  Eion formed enduring and meaningful relationships with those close to him,  and cared about how others felt. He was very close with the Sutherland family and a supporter of the Resiliency Foundation from its inception.

When Eion was 16 he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.  He bravely faced chemo and radiation along with their painful side effects. He was sensitive to the knowledge that his suffering was incredibly difficult for his family and friends to witness.  Averse to self-pity, Eion could always be counted on to lighten a heavy moment  with a funny comment or one-liner to put others at ease.

Remission meant a return to high school then on to Algonquin college to learn the plumbing trade, where Eion further increased his circle of friends and continued his involvement in sports.  He was a genuine listener, accepting of each person’s individual experience and choices, his favourite phrase being “You do you.”

At the age of 20, Eion was diagnosed with leukaemia and once again had to endure months of intensive treatment to battle this disease.  Hope for a cure from a stem cell transplant which he received from his mother,  was sadly replaced with the news in January of 2018 that his disease had progressed.

Eion faced this news with grace and calm, telling each of his close friends individually and inviting them to join him in a Casino weekend of fun, which he very much enjoyed despite his weakened physical state. Only three days later on January 23, 2018, Eion passed away.

Eion was the essence of resiliency, lived his life true to his genuine nature and has left an indelible mark on the lives he has touched.  In honour of Eion, we chose to offer a Resiliency Scholarship  in 2018 to someone who had faced difficult personal adversity.

Recipient of the Eion Campbell Memorial Scholarship:

Ruby C.ruby-photo.jpg

Ruby suffered childhood sexual abuse, compounded by silence, secrecy and then ineffective justice from the legal system. She did not feel supported in her many encounters with therapists, doctors and counsellors over the years.  Ruby’s childhood trauma was reignited during her second year of university when she was experienced recurrent trauma.  Once again she accessed the traditional avenues of support, however despite her best efforts, found them ineffective for her once again.

From this low place, Ruby sought out resources that she felt resonated with her own experience and slowly built up her resilience.  She “learned the distinction between fault and responsibility and accepted that although what was done to me was not my fault, it was my responsibility to choose recovery.”

Through her determination to heal herself, she has healed and deepened the relationships with those closest to her and has gone on to work closely with her Student Union at Dalhousie to create meaningful supports for students who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence.  In future, she hopes to develop and teach workshops on how to use writing, art and personal expression to heal from traumatic experiences.  She wrote “I want to help people discover safe space within themselves.”

Ruby eloquently stated, “I will always carry the ghosts of all the broken versions of me, but instead of feeling bound to them as if they can still weigh me down, I carry them with all the lessons they have taught me and as a reminder of all the pain I will never need to feel again, because I am resilient.”

Ruby received a scholarship to support her studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax in the  Sociology and Social Anthropology program with a certificate in Disabilities Management.

2017 Scholarship Recipients

Nathan W.

Nathan experienced the loss of both of his parents as well as his beloved grandparents while he was very young.  Raised by his loving Aunt, he developed the willingness to recognize and deal directly with all aspects of his grief from the early losses of these important people in his life. He has committed to a lifelong process of personal growth.  He acknowledges that the grief process is highly individual and unique to each person and set of circumstances.

NathanNathan himself emphasized very eloquently how in telling his story, he is willing to share enough background to give context, but wants to focus on the resiliency, not the tragedy, as that is where healing happens. Despite his losses, Nathan has found purpose and meaning in his own life and a desire to help and support others.

Nathan describes the  grief journey  as a rollercoaster and feels that being willing to ask for and accept help from family, friends and counsellors that you can trust helps to deal with the inevitable ups and downs. Grief is an individual journey, but is not one that must be travelled alone.  He states, “I have learned that to ask for help does not come from being weak, but rather shows that I am strong enough to know I don’t have all the answers myself.”  Nathan no longer allows his unfortunate circumstances to define him but rather choses to incorporate his personal growth from his losses in making him the motivated, vibrant young man he is today.

Nathan received a scholarship to support his undergraduate studies at Ryerson University in the Media Production program.

Emily M.

When Emily was just 12 years old, her older brother Aaron died by suicide. She shared a close sibling bond with him and describes him as her role model.  Sadly, within 18 months of this tragedy, she also lost both of her grandparents.  Despite strong support from her parents, these losses plunged Emily into a state of hopelessness where she was unable to envision a positive future for herself.

emily - square cropEmily found her resiliency by choosing to “take time to grieve and to have the courage and strength to allow myself to experience painful emotions. I knew that if I wanted to heal from the pain and to stop hiding in a shadow of quiet darkness that I needed to stop running from the sadness.” By allowing herself the time and space to feel her grief, she came to understand “that if I wanted to create meaning for myself amidst my overwhelming sadness I needed to continue to be involved in activities that reflected my values and interests.” Emily believes “one aspect of resiliency is being able to continue living a meaningful life amidst one’s grief by having the courage and strength to be engaged in the community, so sadness is not the only thing that defines you.” By finding ways to engage in life on these new terms while making space for her painful emotions, Emily has given back to her community through volunteer activities, her beautiful writing and speaking presentations.  Having the courage to share the story of her grief experience in such an authentic way has already undoubtedly helped others with their own.  “I am grateful that I now deeply understand the importance of deliberately making choices to surround myself with kind and caring people and to engage in activities that help others. The pain from the loss of my brother Aaron will always be a part of who I am, but the beauty of resiliency is that I have learned to find peace in my sadness.”

Emily received a scholarship to support her undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Guelph.

Emily has found great healing through writing and has her own blog in which she openly and generously shares her grief journey. Visit Emily’s blog https://growingthroughgrief.weebly.com/

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