Indigenous finance student garners scholarship for second consecutive year

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Kineisha Eagle BearFor the second straight year Kineisha Eagle Bear received a significant financial boost to assist her while she pursues her university degree.

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

The 26-year-old single mother, who has a six-year-old daughter named Nova, had originally hoped that she would graduate from the university in December of 2021.

“Because of the pandemic, they didn’t offer as many classes,” she said of her school. “Some classes weren’t offered in the summer. So, the requirements I needed by December didn’t pan out.”

Eagle Bear is now hoping to complete all of her degree requirements on time this April. But another obstacle arose for her in February.

That’s because University of Lethbridge faculty went on strike on Feb. 10 since they have been without a collective agreement for almost 600 days.

“We got cut all from all of our teachers,” Eagle Bear said. “There’s not much I can do at the moment.”

She’s obviously hoping for a quick resolution.

“There’s no classes whatsoever,” she added. “They’re trying to settle things so it doesn’t affect (students).”

One thing that Eagle Bear was thrilled about, however, during this school year was the fact she found out she was once again a recipient of the Indigenous Scholarship Program.

Cando’s charitable organization, the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund, and the CIBC joined forces to provide the scholarship for four years, from 2019 through 2022.

The program has eight recipients each year share a total of $44,000 in scholarship money. Winners receive between $2,000 to $10,000.

For the second straight year Eagle was one of the two $10,000 recipients.

“I was pretty shocked and I was happy about it,” Eagle Bear said of the fact she was a scholarship winner once again.

Eagle Bear is fortunate that her First Nation does cover a substantial amount of her educational expenses, paying for her tuition and all of her required textbooks.

Money received through the Indigenous Scholarship Program, however, was a welcome boost.

“I used it to cover living expenses of course,” she said. “And I put a little bit into savings.”

Now that she’s close to obtaining her university degree, Eagle Bear is already seeking out  possible job opportunities.

“I’m currently looking to see what’s out there for entry-level positions,” Eagle Bear said in mid-February.

Eagle Bear’s post-secondary career started when she enrolled in a First Nations transition program offered through the University of Lethbridge. In order to be accepted into the university’s accounting program she first needed to upgrade some of her courses.

Eagle Bear, however, withdrew from that program following a challenging pregnancy.

Once she decided to return to school she enrolled in Lethbridge College’s business program where she earned a diploma after two years.

And now, with a couple more years of further studies, she’s on the verge of obtaining her university degree.