Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Elise McCormack

Metis student/athlete receives lucrative university scholarship


By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Elise McCormack NIEEFElise McCormack still has some positive moments from her first year of university even though the ending was not ideal.

McCormack, who hails from Wyevale, a community in Tiny Township in central Ontario, attended Bishop’s University, located in Lennoxville, Que., during the 2019-20 academic year.

Elise McCormack is hoping to continue both her academic and hockey careers at Bishop's University this fall.

Besides taking Business Administration classes, the 18-year-old also suited up for the women’s varsity hockey squad, dubbed the Bishop’s Gaiters, in her freshman year.

No doubt one of the highlights of McCormack’s year was finding out she was one of seven recipients of the new Indigenous Scholarship Program. Those with Indigenous ancestry at post-secondary schools across Canada were eligible for the scholarships.

McCormack could apply as her mother Catherine is Metis. Meanwhile, her father Mason is British.

Scholarship amounts ranged from $2,000 to $10,000. McCormack was one of two recipients that received $10,000 each, an amount which can be renewable annually for up to four years.

“It really meant a lot,” McCormack said of the scholarships, delivered by Indspire, the national charitable organization which raises funds and delivers programs for Indigenous people.

The scholarships were also made possible because of a new partnership between CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF), the charitable organization of Cando, which promotes economic development in Indigenous communities through Canada.

McCormack is obviously pleased this scholarship can now potentially cover more than half of her school expenses each year. She also won’t have to take on a part-time job to help pay bills.

“It helps out a lot,” she said. “If I had to get a job while in school I don’t think I’d be able to play hockey.”

Like all other students across the country, McCormack’s school year was thrown into limbo in mid-March when COVID-19 started spreading and pandemic restrictions were put into place. Schools closed their doors and classes were moved online.

“I was just sad I was missing out on the last few weeks and taking online classes,” McCormack said.

McCormack returned home to Wyevale and had to spend the last four weeks of her school year writing some essays and then her final exams online.

“The profs did a pretty good job,” she said. “They restructured things and gave us more time to do them.”

McCormack took general Business Administration courses in her first year at Bishop’s. But she’ll start to specialize now.

“I’m going to go into finance and accounting and get a double major maybe,” she said.

McCormack believes she might eventually decide to get into commercial real estate.

“I’m not sure of that yet,” said McCormack, who graduated from Ecole secondaire Le Caron, a French-speaking high school in Penetanguishene, Ont.

The teen is also not quite sure what her second year at Bishop’s will look like because of the pandemic. By mid-May most Quebec-based universities had announced they would move all their classes online for the fall semester.

“My school hasn’t decided anything yet,” she said. “I assume it will be the same as the others.”

McCormack is not thrilled of the possibility of taking all of her fall classes online.

“It’s not ideal,” she said. “I would just do some classes. Not as many (as a full load) but I would still go there.”

McCormack said she would be able to take less courses this coming semester and not fall behind as she had signed up for a spring class and was also contemplating taking another one during the summer months.

McCormack added she could conceivably remain home and take her fall classes from Wyevale if the school does proceed with just online sessions. But it’s likely she will go to Lennoxville.

“I’d prefer to go there,” she said. “I’m already paying for the apartment building I’ll be in and a bunch of my friends will be there.”

McCormack is also hoping restrictions are lifted and there will be a return to sports. She plays defence for the Bishop’s squad, which is joining the Reseau du sport etudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) for the 2020-21 season. This Quebec-based league will feature 10 entrants this coming season.

“We’ve been in contact,” McCormack said of talks with the Gaiters’ coaching staff. “But they don’t know anything yet about the season.”

During her first year at Bishop’s, the squad was not in a league only competed in exhibition games against various teams from Canada and the United States this past season.