The 2019 Karonhiaráhstha Memorial Fund recipients were thrilled to learn that they had been chosen as winners. Once they graduate, they hope to practice or work in the health care system in Kahnawake. (Courtesy Jerry Lazaris)
Family and friends gathered at the Host Hotel last Thursday (August 1) to celebrate the fourth annual Karonhiaráhstha Memorial Fund awards, which aim to provide financial assistance to Kahnawa’kehró:non students pursuing an education in the fields of medicine, nursing, as well as all other health care professions and health science.
“I invited them all (the applicants) tonight, but nobody knows who is getting anything,” said Lois Montour, executive director of the Kateri Memorial Foundation (KMF) before the start of the awards ceremony.
To say it was a pleasant surprise for the recipients is a major understatement. It was only upon arrival that they found out they had all been selected as winners and would be getting a scholarship, a monetary prize or a grant.
This year seven scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 were awarded. The highest one went to Jansen Nicholas, who is studying to get his Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree at Columbia University.
Montour also said that this year they received so many excellent candidates that for the Bachelor’s degree category they ended up choosing three recipients.
Kahteraks Goodleaf is one of the three winners and is halfway through the completion of her studies in Indigenous Social Work at Laurentian University.
“I feel extremely grateful, supported and recognized for my hard work,” said Goodleaf, who has previously won a scholarship through the same memorial fund.
“They have been really supporting me through my studies,” she said.
The six prize recipients received $500 each to help fund their studies.
The biggest surprise of the night, however, was the announcement of a special grant which was presented to Cheryl Katsistenhawi Montour to attend the Onkwehón:we Midwifery Training program in Akwesasne.
“It was a shock,” said Cheryl when she heard her name being called as the winner of the special grant.
“I had received the invitation to go to the awards evening, but I didn’t know I was getting anything. I nearly cried. I’m really excited,” she said.
This special grant was created specifically for Cheryl. The program, which starts at the end of August, takes five years to complete, and the first year alone costs $11,000.
“The board and the committee agreed to fund her as she continues her studies, provided that Winter Wonderland continues to be successful,” said Lois.
“We have 14 birthing doulas in the community. She (Cheryl) will be the first one in the community with the hopes of starting our own birthing centre.”
The Karonhiaráhstha memorial fund is made possible through the annual Winter Wonderland Christmas raffle, which is heading into its 5th year this December.
The memorial fund and the Winter Wonderland fundraiser were set up in honour of Karonhiaráhstha Sky Junie Delisle who tragically passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when she was only four months old, in December of 2013.