Congratulations Violet Cross – Winner of the 2015 Aspire-Canada Scholarship (Garfield R. Mullings Memorial Award)

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Aspire-Canada Scholarship (Garfield R Mullings Memorial Award). We received hundreds of scholarship applications from students from across the world. Violet Cross was chosen as a result of her many accomplishments in the sphere of community work, her commitment to excellence as well as her ongoing efforts at community development. Violets story is an inspirational one - she is a full-time student and mother to two young children. She has overcome great obstacles while still managing to work at improving the lives of others around her in the community. Her scholarship essay is posted below.


I was born and raised in my community if Skidegate Haida Gwaii until moving away to attend College in Montreal, Quebec fifteen years ago.
I’m from the Staasta’s Eagle/ Frog clan of Old Masset. My family is of Haida and French ancestry and one of the largest families in Skidegate. Some of my many accomplishments on a community level include, volunteering and managing the local youth centre while working full-time. In addition, providing volunteer tutoring services to kids ages 5-18 years. I organized various fundraisers such as the Island’s Spirit Rising event to help loggers and their families in need that were out of work. I also served as a board member for the Haida Gwaii Youth Society, a volunteer for the all-island food bank packaging and delivering food, and a board member of the Skidegate Education committee. Also, anytime any of our Haida people are hospitalized in Vancouver I visit them and pray with them. We also have Haida night at the friendship centre here in Vancouver.

In the Spring 2007 while enrolled full-time in a two-year condensed Early Childhood Education diploma program managed to be actively involved in the “ Sock it to Em” campaign, sending a unique petition with thousands of signatures to the provincial and federal governments telling them to honor and defend daycare agreements and provide access to quality , affordable daycare programs. As a result, I was able to meet with than Premier Gordon Campbell when he was in Haida Gwaii on July 13, 2006. He stated in the local newspaper, “Due to Violet’s dedication to this project, it illustrates her commitment to helping families in need. “

In the present here in Vancouver I’m a full-time University student, single parent of three children, and committee member. I was taught by my elders to make some of our most powerful healing medicines to help both native and non-native people. Jiithaanjaaw is used to treat and cure cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, throat infections and cold prevention. When called upon I will regularly go to various hospitals in Vancouver to pray for sick people and their families. I also host prayer circles around the fire, participate as the medicine keeper at sweat lodge ceremonies, singing our traditional Haida spirit song to honor all our first nations’ people and our kunissi ( ancestors).In addition, we attend the native friendship centre whenever our Haida nation is hosting or if there is a special event. When our nation is hosting a potluck dinner I serve the elders and the opposite clan at the feast. Living in Vancouver my children are reminded of the importance of maintaining our traditional Haida culture and values. Both my daughters are members of the local Vancouver Haida dance group.

To promote awareness of indigenous people, culture, and traditions in Vancouver I regularly promote and encourage other first nation’s students and non-natives to attend the Enbridge protests, cultural events, gallery openings, and feasts. I encourage students to utilize funding and employment resources like access, FNESC, the first nation’s employment society, aboriginal skills and employment group, and the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the current displays of first nation’s artwork.

With regards to promoting first nation’s people in a school setting this is done at Capilano University by creating cultural awareness with the staff and students of all indigenous tribes. I regularly visit the first nation’s lounge and the manger of student services at the university. The centre provides a support network for students at Capilano University while helping first nation’s culture to flourish in the university community. The lounge is used as a study space, meeting place, a place to eat lunch and socialize, use of the computers and printer. Other services include use of the fridge, microwave, coffee, and telephone, notice board for events, cultural workshops and in resident elders.

Upon completion of my Bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education degree at Capliano University I plan to give back to my community by moving back to Haida Gwaii to open up a high quality fully licensed daycare for special needs, infant toddler, and pre-school age children and after school kids. Due to the lack of space at the current on reserve and off reserve daycare facilities currently there’s a two-year wait period for the families seeking childcare on Haida Gwaii.

My life-long goal is to complete my ECE degree at Capilano University in April 2018. Since leaving Haida Gwaii the last four- years have been spent working for First Nation’s daycares in Vancouver. Managing and teaching pre-school age children. As a teacher providing high quality child care services that are supportive building blocks for the health and well-being of all children is essential to their academic success in high school.

It is our goal as educators to facilitate a child’s progress in the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive areas of development. This is done by preparing the foundation in order to ensure long term success on all academic levels.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smile on a child’s face when they have completed an art project or workbook. To be able to enable children to reach their full potential in environments that are carefully planned to serve individual and group needs is the most rewarding job.

The experience of working with multiple age groups here in Vancouver has inspired me to go to Capilano University to earn my ECCE degree.
According to the Community Care Licensing Branch, my ECE Post- Basic Licence needs to be extended to Special needs certification and Infant Toddler in order to open, manage, and acquire my own daycare.

The Bachelor of ECCE degree program is a four-year program consisting of 121.5 credits. The program encompasses all of the ECE certifications.
Obtaining my BA of ECCE degree will provide me with cutting-edge competencies and the knowledge base required in order to work with all children under and over age five. It will also equip me with all the licences needed to teach at an elementary school system.
Graduates of the program will be prepared to assume leadership roles as advocates, policy specialists, administrators, researchers, early childhood educators, and daycare owners. I’m a very dedicated, hardworking honor student. I’m a friendly, and caring individual and have done my best to achieve academic success while at Capilano University. Recently, having made the Dean’s list with honors and will be attending an event held at the holly burn country club to celebrate our achievements.

With the support of the Aspire-Canada Scholarship it will ease the stress and financial burden of being a single mother of three children and a full-time student at Capilano University.

My field of study in the Bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education program will benefit the entire Haida Nation and my community of Skidegate Haida Gwaii. My vision for my first nation’s community is to open up my own fully licensed facility encompassing all age groups. There will be enough space in the multi-age facility for every family to enroll their child. This will increase the overall employment rates because families will have the necessary childcare needed to be able to get back into the workforce.

In the past five-years, I have acquired many skills in the field of early childhood care and education as both an assistant, manager, and as a licensed Early Childhood Educator. Such skills include supervising eight pre-school age children indoors and outdoors, developing curriculum based programs based on children’s needs, organizing activities, around cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual growth. In addition, doing circle time, developing art projects, preparing and serving healthy meals , ages and stages questionnaires, referrals out for the ICAN assessments through interior health, forming partnerships with parents and service providers, creating daily, weekly and monthly curriculum that is based on themes, early childhood education theory, and early brain development. Other knowledge acquired includes, providing daily morning /afternoon snacks that are healthy, outdoor playtime twice per day, nap time, experiential learning tables, art, reading, writing, nature walks, health promotion (healthy washing and brushing teeth).

The skills and knowledge base gained along my journey as a loving, dedicated, trustworthy, responsive, compassionate ECE teacher have inspired me to stay committed despite losing my biological mother very suddenly a few weeks ago. My vision and my goal of getting my Bachelor of ECCE degree will stay with me despite everything that has happened lately.

Being a full-time student and single mother has been at times stressful and a financial struggle. Other challenges this year include, losing my cousin in a hit and run car accident in Calgary. Our family has suffered a tremendous loss as Jaron was only twenty-six years old. I’m also registered with disability services at Capilano University. I have a physical disability and have had to battle cancer this year. However, I have managed to get through despite all the stress this year.

Thanks to my strong connection to Creator, my ancestors, elders, friends, family and student support network , and professors all the shock and despair associated with grief and loss have made me a stronger mother, student, friend, role model, and medicine woman.
I have been blessed by the Creator , and given a clearer vision to see where I have been, the guidance to know where I’m going , the courage to be strong enough to be weak, and the protection needed from Creator on this journey to reach my destination. As I enter into my second year of full-time studies in September 2015 with your support it would be an honor and a privilege to make my dreams a reality. Thank-you for your time and consideration in helping me build a bigger and brighter future for the precious future generations of all children, families, elders, and my community.

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