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OISE alumna establishes bursary for Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), Black Indigenous and Taino students

March 15, 2021

By Perry King

Professor Erica Neeganagwedgin has established a new scholarship to support Indigenous, Black Indigenous and Taino students in OISE’s Master of Teaching program. The Olive Moxam Indigenous Bursary, named after Neeganagwedgin’s mother, will provide students with $1,000 to $2,000 to support their education.

OISE alumna establishes bursary for Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), Black Indigenous and Taino students

With the establishment of the Olive Moxam Indigenous Bursary, Professor Erica Neeganagwedgin is looking to tell a different story than the one being told.

Neeganagwedgin, who earned her university degrees from the University of Toronto – including a Masters and doctorate from OISE – looks back on her experiences with love. She met many people who supported her – particularly Black and Indigenous students and some who are, like her, of Taino heritage, which originates in the Caribbean.

They all became close friends and a support system for each other.

“I met some Caribbean students who talked about Indigeneity and yet with approximately 55 million Indigenous people in Latin America and the Caribbean, Caribbean Indigenous people are so invisible,” says Neeganagwedgin, who earned a Master of Arts and a doctorate in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education with a specialization in Indigenous Education. She is now an Assistant Professor in Critical Policy, Equity and Leadership Studies at Western University's Faculty of Education.

“I want to highlight Caribbean Indigeneity and Taino [Indigeneity] specifically,” with this bursary, she added. “The scholarship tells its own story about our survival and self- determination into today. That being said, there were Taino students and Indigenous students, you know, who have supported me, in my learning journey at OISE – emotionally, mentally, spiritually.”

The bursary is meant to support Indigenous, Black and Taino students in the Master of Teaching program as they navigate their studies. It is the first bursary of its kind at OISE.

“On behalf of the OISE community, I congratulate Professor Neeganagwedgin for establishing the Olive Moxam Indigenous bursary,” said OISE Dean Glen Jones. “The bursary, meant to support Indigenous and Black Indigenous students, channels Professor Neeganagwedgin's passion for education and her deep love for the OISE community.

“We are grateful for her gift and hope it continues to motivate new students who want to make a difference in their communities.”

Sim Kapoor, OISE’s Director of Advancement, Communications & External Relations, adds, “Professor Neeganagwedgin’s selfless gift to our Institute opens new doors for Black Indigenous students who could not see themselves in this Institution. We are indebted to her for her gift.”

“This bursary is big step toward what we can achieve together to support students,” Kapoor says. “We hope the professor’s gift inspires others to give, as well.”

Creating some kind of bursary for Indigenous students is something Neeganagwedgin has wanted to implement at OISE since 2014. The idea was sparked when she and her mother went to a conference in the Caribbean on Indigeneity.

“I had discussed with my mother about establishing the scholarship. She thought it was a good idea and she really supports it,” said Neeganagwedgin. “My mother is the oldest person that I'm aware of in our Taino community who openly identifies as Taino. So, I thought it would be fitting to name the scholarship in her name.”

So, it made sense that Neeganagwedgin would establish this bursary with OISE. “I'm still attached to OISE and I appreciate the people, professors, staff, and students and the experiences that I had.” she said.

Recipients will receive between $1,000 and $2,000 to support their education. OISE will match this bursary up to $25,000 with donations and contributions from the public.

“For me, it’s about supporting students – I had also received bursaries when I was at OISE,” she added. “And when I was at University of Toronto, there were times when, if I didn't receive those bursaries, it would have been a huge burden as a student.”

It is the people – who she says have encouraged and supported her the most – that are dear to Neeganagwedgin’s heart. “Those are the people that inform my everyday life and I think contributed in large ways to who I am.

“This is my appreciation and gratitude in honour of the support I received.”

Make a gift to the Olive Moxam Indigenous Bursary.


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