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Why Give | Impact stories

How an entrance award is helping an Indigenous student make a difference

Haley is hoping to use her UBC education to help underrepresented groups have a voice in shaping Canadian society and politics – and a donor-funded scholarship is making her ambitions possible.

Haley Seven Deers, a fourth-year history and anthropology student at UBC Okanagan, hopes to use her education to help minority groups have a voice, with support from a UBC Okanagan Aboriginal Entrance Award.

“Growing up as an Indigenous person in Canada, you still face a lot of discrimination,” says Haley. “It helped me to understand how important it is for other minority groups’ stories to be heard. As an anthropologist, your research can really have the power to drive change.”

The scholarship made university possible for Haley, the eldest of four children in her family. She hopes to break stereotypes that pursuing higher education is not possible for many Indigenous youth.

“I want to be a role model for my younger siblings to tell them they can pursue whatever they want to,” says Haley. “I think it is really important that these scholarships are available to Indigenous students, so they can be included in shaping Canadian society and politics. We need to have their voices to help Indigenous communities.”

She was originally inspired to enter the field by her father, a member of the Stó:lō Nation, who met Haley’s mother when he was working in an anthropology museum in Hamburg, Germany. Her whole family was there when she got the news that she had received the award.

“I hadn’t paid my phone bill that month and was home checking my email,” recalls Haley. “I thought there must be a mistake, they put too many zeros at the end. I couldn’t believe it until my dad said it was real. We all celebrated, they were so happy for me.”

She says the scholarship has opened up many opportunities for her future. After she graduates this spring, Haley plans to pursue a master’s degree in anthropology. She is currently working as an undergraduate research assistant for one of her professors and says none of this would have been possible without the generous support of UBC donors.

“These awards are truly life-changing for students,” says Haley. “Every bit, no matter how small or large that you donate is going to have a huge impact on people’s lives. And not just on the students, but on all the people they will affect later in their careers. It’s such a beautiful thing that has such a far-reaching impact within society.”