2022 Scholarship Recipients

Kadia R.

Kadia Roberts

Kadia’s father passed by suicide in 2012, when she was  only 7 years old.  This loss shocked her family and was difficult for her to understand at such a young age. Kadia was grateful for the countless friends and family members who supported them in this time by providing them with home cooked meals and company. Kadia also began to attend therapy, utilizing art, journals and games to express her feelings in a way that made sense for a young child.

In 2016, Kadia’s mother faced a serious health diagnosis and Kadia found herself developing significant anxiety. She recognized this was related to her grief and fear of losing another parent. She sought help and received professional support to help understand and manage her feelings and physical experience of anxiety through her mother’s illness, which thankfully responded to treatment.

Kadia found that she grieved the loss of her father differently at different stages as she got older. She found ways to connect with him, especially through music that he loved and by learning to play the guitar, as he did.

Kadia feels that her experience with grief has made her empathic and sensitive to inequity, which prompter her to become involved in her school’s Social Justice League and to select school courses focusing on equity. She hopes to take her career in a direction that will help to end stigma around mental health.

Kadia received a scholarship to support her studies at McMaster University in the Social Sciences program.

Makath M.

Makath McClimond photo (1)

In 2021, Makath’s  boyfriend of two years, Ethan, passed by suicide. She realized quickly that dealing with this amount of pain alone was not possible, so she sought professional help to support her mental health. She has experienced tremendous benefit from therapy. As she began to heal, she relied on her determination and inner strength to build resilience. As she experienced the benefit of connection with others despite the pandemic lockdowns, she saw an opportunity to provide connection to others who may feel isolated and lonely due to Covid restrictions. She started a volunteer organization in her community to regularly reach out to connect with seniors living in retirement homes. She feels that even when someone’s problems or circumstances cannot be fixed, they do not have to be faced alone.

Makath has found recalling and focusing on happy memories of her time with Ethan has helped her to develop resilience. She encourages others to seek support and not suffer in silence.

Makath received a scholarship to support her studies at Brock University in the Accounting program.

Wesley M.

Wesley Michailidis

In 2012, Wesley’s father passed by suicide and Wesley’s own life changed forever.  “My father was the primary provider for our family, taking care of me, my sisters and my mother. When he passed it felt like the rug was pulled from under us.” The family faced the turmoil of sudden grief, compounded by financial instability.

Wesley, who copes with a mental health diagnosis of his own, found the grief made his condition nearly impossible to manage well and he experienced significant depression. The reality of the practical matters related to his family’s loss of income left little time to tend to his mental health. Wesley helped take care of his sisters while his mom worked long hours to make ends meet. He also worked himself to take some of the financial burden off of his family.

As Wesley got support in managing his grief alongside his mental health condition, he found athletics and music to be helpful outlets for his grief. Through doing what he could to alleviate the financial strain, tending to his mental health and finding outlets for expression that resonated for him, Wesley began to cultivate and grow his resiliency.

Wesley received a scholarship to support his studies at McGill University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts.

J’ R.

J'lyn Ramsankar

In March of 2020 J’ lost her Gido (grandfather in Ukrainian) to a rare form of pneumonia. With the world going into lockdown not even a week later, the family was not able to have a funeral and J’ was left feeling confused and angry. This was the first time she had lost someone close to her and now she felt her family couldn’t go through the grief rituals that would normally support healing. With the loss of her usual activities due to the pandemic,  J’ struggled to cope. With the cancellation of the positive events of her senior year; the dance show, the drama production, the graduation ceremony, the informal social interactions with friends and classmates, J’ felt robbed of these experiences, further adding to her sense of loss. She dealt with a lot of angry and resentful feelings during this time. As she acknowledged how she felt, she began to clear some of that anger and began to focus on their goodbye.  She continues to find peace in their final hug and his last loving words to her.

As she tried to start fresh and put her best effort towards her first year of online university, J’ received news that her long-time childhood friend had been killed by a drunk driver.  To lose a close friend so suddenly and to find out through the resulting social media uproar was disconnecting, an experience J’ described as “some horrible nightmare I couldn’t wake up from”.

For J’, the pandemic delayed her processing of grief from these two monumental losses in her life coming one after the other. She struggled to find purpose for her life. She found it helpful to remind herself daily, that her difficult feelings around these losses are part of the experience and to remove any expectation of herself that everything in her life should carry on as normal.  She learned to pay attention to what she was feeling, and through this reflection, she began to find resiliency.  She connected to the memory of her friend and her Gido by continuing to participate in Ukrainian dance, an activity they all loved and shared. As this feeling of resiliency grew within her, she found ways to express it outwardly through dance, coaching, and sports performance. She has learned that although her friend and her Gido are no longer physically here, they will always remain with her.

J’ acknowledges that often well-meaning people don’t know what to say or do to support young people experiencing grief. She remembers most during her grief journey those who were kind and those who were understanding. She says “When the time comes and someone in need comes to me asking for help, I will remember how I wanted to be treated.”

J’ received a scholarship to support her studies at the University of Alberta in the Kinesiology program.


%d bloggers like this: