BRANDON, MB — Audrey Cook, a fourth-year Native Studies major at Brandon University recently received the Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Award for Personal Achievement. Originally from the Bloodvein River reserve, she is the first individual in her father’s family to attend university. This award served to underline her academic commitment.
“Receiving the award was very overwhelming,” she said. “I’ve had a big struggle with my education.”
When Cook was five years old, she and her mother relocated to Germany and her scholastic struggles began — first with the cultural and language barriers, then after returning to Manitoba six years later, with readapting to English. However, she has been determined to reach her goals.
“This award is unique in that nominees are judged by a group of their peers and Audrey’s peers recognized her for her accomplishments and for being an outstanding role model in the community,” wrote one of Cook’s professors, Dr. Lorraine Mayer. “The Native Studies department would like to extend its sincere congratulations to Audrey.”
Along with the award, the young woman also received a cheque for $1,000 as well as a plaque to underline her notable example in her community.
“I’ve had a few influences, one of them being my grandfather. He was an activist and the chief of our community for 17 years. He was also the co-founder of an organization where we get our sponsorship,” she said. “Another is my auntie, my mother’s sister, who has her Master degree and she got it here, at Brandon University. So, I’m following in her footsteps.”
On her home reserve, formal education on site is only available to Grade 9. Afterward, secondary school students must relocate to another community, like Brandon, to continue their studies. A graduate of Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School, Cook hopes to pursue graduate studies in education and law once she has obtained a Bachelor of Arts.
For more information, please contact:
Joanne F. Villeneuve
P: (204) 727-9762