It started with a hope. Rachel Quinney, a young Indigenous woman, shared with her family that she hoped to go to NorQuest that September. Sadly, in June of 2004 she was brutally murdered. In their deep grief, her family worked with CEASE and NorQuest to establish a bursary called “Rachel’s Hope.”
Years later, the light of hope still burns. Since 2006, the Rachel’s Hope bursary has disbursed $277,835 to 115 students. Eighty-four began by academic upgrading. Completing upgrading is both a confidence-builder and a door-opener to jobs or further education. Nineteen carried on to a post-secondary career program.
Thirty-one additional recipients began their NorQuest journey in a post-secondary career program. A total of 50 students have done a post-secondary career program, and 88% of them enrolled in a health and/or community studies program. These include Social Work, Community Support Worker, Practical Nurse, Health Care Aide, and Physical Therapy Assistant.
Education is key to creating pathways of hope. Edmonton’s Sexual Exploitation Working Group hosted a Lunch & Learn at NorQuest on February 7th. Joanna Gladue, a practicing psychologist with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) and CEASE, presented the ongoing challenge to “Prevent Sexual Exploitation of Indigenous Girls and Women.” Afterwards, members of Rachel’s family spoke. Another mother described how her daughter had nearly died as a result of a knife attack. Her daughter shared how the bursary helped her become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) with a job in the hospital Trauma Unit where she had recovered.
Rachel’s Hope Endowment is $78,330, earning around $4,000 per year to disburse. In addition, there is an “Expendable Balance” of $35,932 with the annual disbursement ranging from $17,000 – $40,000. Thanks to several recent donations, the expendable bursary fund will extend four more years. The Stollery Family Charitable Foundation donated $25,000. An anonymous donor will add $12,000 into the fund for each of the next three years (total $36,000), and a generous couple contributed an additional $25,000.
“When a Rachel’s Hope recipient enters a career path of service, whether it be a health career or community studies career, that bursary is not only helping the student but also helping the community on an exponential scale. Rachel’s memory will live on through the service careers that our students choose to follow,” said Tanya Horvath, NorQuest Scholarships and Bursaries Advisor.
Donations to either the Endowment or the expendable bursary are always welcome. This helps NorQuest, CEASE, and Rachel Quinney’s family keep building hope. Readers can view the presentation on Reach Edmonton’s YouTube channel.
Kate Quinn is the Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE).