Every year, NWAC hands out  the Helen Bassett Commemorative Award to four young Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, or gender-diverse students in the amount of $1,000 each. The awards are made possible by the generous donation of Helen Bassett, an Ontario artist and passionate advocate for the advancement of Indigenous women and for fair solutions to Indigenous land claim issues. She directed open letters to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his cabinet in 1980 and again in 1983, proposing that a tax be levied on all land transactions in Canada, with a royalty paid to Indigenous people. She outlined her ideas in Native Rights. In her selflessness, she specified NWAC as one of the beneficiaries of her estate. This has helped to sustain our post-secondary student awards program to this day.

The Awards Program

Our Business, Employment and Social Development (BESD) Unit coordinates the award program and Indigenous youth manage the selection process.

Awards  are provided to four Indigenous youth from each of the four directions: North, South, East, and West.


Applicants must:

  • Be currently pursuing post-secondary studies (priority is given to students who are studying law or are in a law-related field)
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be an Indigenous woman, gender-diverse, or Two-Spirit person under 31 years of age
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving the situation of Indigenous women and youth in Canada politically, culturally, economically, or otherwise

The application due date is July 16th, 2021 11:59 PM. EST

Applications for 2021 closed, check back in Spring/Summer 2022 for award information

2021 Award Recipients

My name is Samantha Gardiner. I am a Bachelor of Social Work Student, mother, wife, and comprehensive community plan coordinator for my First Nation. After taking leave from my university career I went back to finish my Bachelor of Arts before applying to the Bachelor of Social Work program. I have always wanted to study social work; I am so thankful to have the opportunity to do so. While at the time I felt embarrassed heading into a first-year college class to get a credit towards my undergrad while carrying my infant with me, I am so glad I did.

Kylie Jack is a Syilx (Okanagan) woman from the Penticton Indian Band, while completing her Bachelor of Art’s degree majoring in Criminology she played NCAA division II women’s varsity golf at Simon Fraser University. She is currently in her second year of the Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders joint degree (JD/JID) at the University of Victoria. She is the Indigenous Law Student Association upper year rep for the upcoming year and was elected as the Faculty of Law Student Representative for the Senate.

Kylie has been learning her language, nqilwxcn, because she knows Indigenous people’s language is law and as a Syilx woman it is important to learn her traditional values and pass them on to the next generation. As a role model in her community, she inspires other young women to use their voice and practice their traditions.

Previous Winners

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is proud of its Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award winners, who have all demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of Indigenous women and youth politically, economically, and culturally.


Bailee Brewster (West)

Jaime Fortin (South)

Mia Gill (North)

Chakira Young (East)


Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers

Jeneva Dennis

Allysa Mark

Taylor Vodden


Tewateronhia:khwa Jordan Nelson

Alyssa Mark

Kayla Lavallee

Kerrin-lee Whyte


Desirée Duplessis

Tamara Takpanie

Leah Combs

Sophie Bender Johnston (Ookishkimaanisii)