Vancouver Island University announced this week the creation of the Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award and the Micah Messent Memorial Environmental Award. (Monica Phung photo)

VIU scholarships created in honour of grad who died in plane crash

Awards related to indigenous studies and the environment will be offered in memory of Micah Messent

Two new VIU scholarships will help students take some of the learning paths that interested graduate Micah Messent during his lifetime.

Vancouver Island University announced this week that the 2018 grad, who died in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash last winter on his way to the UN Environmental Assembly, will be remembered through the Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award and the Micah Messent Memorial Environmental Award.

Messent’s family received “an outpouring of support from the community” after the 23-year-old’s death, according to a VIU press release, and started a GoFundMe page to help channel these efforts. The family was able to create the two awards with the proceeds from the fundraising.

“We are trying to walk in his path a little bit, we’re thinking to ourselves, ‘What would Micah do?’” said his sister, Jade Ballard, in the release. “He always tried to lift everyone up and help move everyone forward together. Through this endowment, every year we hope to reflect on some of the issues he was passionate about, support communities and students, and help to create a better world.”

Messent graduated from Georges P. Vanier School in Courtenay in 2013 and VIU in 2018 with a bachelor of arts in indigenous studies. Messent, who has Métis heritage, worked with B.C. Parks in the aboriginal youth internship program in Victoria and was planning to return to school to pursue a degree in indigenous law.

The Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award will support an indigenous learner entering the VIU’s indigenous studies program, with preference to a student graduating from G.P. Vanier. The Micah Messent Memorial Environment Award will be available to indigenous students at VIU who have demonstrated community involvement and environmental advocacy.

“We are supporting two of his passions – education and the environment,” Ballard said. “Micah grasped every opportunity he could; this legacy will allow others to do that.”

Messent’s family is still hoping to grow the scholarship funds so the awards can both be offered in perpetuity. For more information, contact the VIU Foundation at 250-740-6214.

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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