Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Kineisha Eagle Bear

Scholarship enables Indigenous student to pay bills and save for her future

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Kineisha Eagle BearPerfect timing.

That would undoubtedly be the best way Kineisha Eagle Bear would describe the recent news that she won a $10,000 scholarship.

Eagle Bear, a member of Kainai Nation in Alberta, is in her final year of finance studies at the University of Lethbridge.

But things were not looking too rosy this past fall for Eagle Bear, a 25-year-old single mother, who has a five-year-old daughter named Nova.

She already had some bills which needed some attention. And her expenses increased as it was necessary to get some vehicle repair work done since she was involved in a car accident this past November.

Kineisha Eagle Bear is a member of Kainai Nation in Alberta.

Plus, her computer which she required for her school work, seemed to be on its last legs and needed to be replaced soon.

Eagle Bear’s fortunes then improved considerably in late November when she heard she was a recipient of the Indigenous Scholarship Program.

Indspire, the charitable organization which raises funds and delivers various programs for Indigenous people across Canada, operates the program.

Funding for the Indigenous Scholarship Program, which featured a total of $44,000 this year, was split among eight recipients.

Eagle Bear was one of two winners who received the largest amount of scholarship money, $10,000 each.

Funding was available via a partnership between Cando’s charitable organization, called the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund, and the CIBC.

“Receiving the scholarship has allowed me to cover these extra costs, without having to worry about the financial impact,” Eagle Bear said. “With the scholarship I was also able to pay off all my bills, and I saved 50% for future investment plans.”

Eagle Bear was also able to lend a helping hand with a portion of her scholarship money.

“Sharing was also important to me,” she said. “Being in the position to give, I donated five per cent of my scholarship towards those in need over the holiday season.”

Upon finishing high school, Eagle Bear had enrolled in a First Nations transition program offered through the University of Lethbridge.

She needed to upgrade some courses in order to be accepted into the university’s accounting program.

A challenging pregnancy, however, forced Eagle Bear to withdraw from that program after one year.

Once she decided to continue her education, Eagle Bear enrolled in Lethbridge College’s two-year business program where she earned a diploma.

She then moved on to two additional years of studies at Lethbridge University, where she will earn a degree.

Eagle Bear admits she has had her share of challenges during her post-secondary schooling.

“Being a full-time student can be financially difficult, especially being a single parent where time and money is tight,” she said. “Over the years we had made sacrifices to make things work out for us. It’s all trial and error. I have taught myself how to manage my time and how to manage my finances efficiently.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Eagle Bear’s classes right now are conducted virtually.

“I find it difficult because our teachers are also just getting used to online teaching,” she said. “It’s a challenge for everybody, not only students but the professors as well.”