Métis student nearing Master’s completion eyeing PhD next

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

Jessica Boucher CowieJessica Boucher-Cowie realizes that she has been rather fortunate.

“I’m lucky to have a very supportive family,” said Boucher-Cowie, a 27-year-old Métis woman who is in her final year of studies in the Master’s of Development Practice (MDP): Indigenous Development program offered through the University of Winnipeg. “I feel I have been given a lot of opportunities that maybe others may not have been granted.”

Boucher-Cowie plans to put her good fortune to use and assist others. Especially Indigenous people.

She already has one university degree under her belt. She earned her undergrad degree in international development and conflict resolution, graduating from the University of Winnipeg in 2020.

Getting into her current MDP program was no easy feat.

“It is a competitive program,” she said, adding her cohort has 10 students. “I think they have a few hundred applicants every year.”

Winnipeg’s MDP program is considered even more prestigious since it is the only one globally that has a focus on Indigenous development.

Upon earning her Master’s, Boucher-Cowie is planning to enter the workforce. But she also already has her eyes set on furthering her education even more.

“I’m hoping to secure some full-time work,” she said. “And I wish to pursue a PhD. I would like to do that part-time if my circumstances allow.”

Boucher-Cowie has a passion for Indigenous rights, sovereignty and economic advancement. She would love to land a job where she can assist fellow Indigenous people.

And ideally, she would prefer to do that in her hometown of Winnipeg.

“There are a lot of needs in urban areas,” she said. “I think I would be most comfortable in staying put (in Winnipeg).”

Besides being one of the lucky few accepted into her Master’s program, Boucher-Cowie was also one of six individuals selected nationally to receive a National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF) scholarship this year.

Each scholarship recipient received a $3,000 award.

The scholarships were made available through NIEEF, the foundation which is the charitable arm of Cando. And Cando is the national organization that promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada.

Boucher-Cowie obviously welcomed the news she was receiving some financial assistance with the scholarship.

Her annual tuition alone costs $22,000.

“It helps me a lot,” she said of her NIEEF scholarship. “It makes my living expenses and tuition a little more palpable.”

The NIEEF scholarships are available to students who have Indigenous ancestry and are enrolled full-time in a Canadian post-secondary school.

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, students must also be studying in a certain field. The options include business administration/economics, business finance, business management, natural resources or community economic development.

Boucher-Cowie is obviously pleased that financial assistance is available, including the funds provided via her NIEEF scholarship.

 “Opportunities like this provide the support necessary to pursue higher education and are integral to my continued success in achieving my personal and career goals,” she said.