NEADS Announces Recipients of the 2023 NEADS National Student Awards and AMI Scholarship Programs!

(Ottawa, June 4, 2024) 

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), and our funding partners: the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning Program, Canada Post, Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group and private donors, are excited to announce the outstanding winners of the 2023 NEADS Student Awards Program. 

NEADS Student Awards Recipients ($3,000)

NEADS National Student Awards are offered annually to encourage full access to post-secondary education for persons with disabilities, who often have higher costs and greater barriers to participation in higher education. The awards are paid directly to the post-secondary institution the student attends to offset the cost of tuition. We continue to prioritize these awards to multi-marginalized disabled students who face even greater barriers in accessing education e.g. students who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as part of a visible minority group, as a first generation Canadian or Indigenous, including Inuit or Métis.  

Thanks to generous support from the Government of Canada’s Supports for Student Learning Program, 49 $3,000 NEADS Student Awards were awarded in 2023. The outstanding recipients of this year's awards attend 27 post-secondary institutions across Canada, studying an impressively broad range of subjects. An alphabetized appendix listing the names and program information for all 49 NEADS Student Award recipients is included at the end of this press release.

Testimonials from some of our outstanding NEADS Student Awards Recipients:

"I am deeply honoured and grateful to be considered for this disability award, as it signifies recognition of not only my past accomplishments but also the unique challenges I have overcome in pursuit of my academic and career goals. This award presents an invaluable opportunity to further invest in my education and professional development, particularly in the field of computer science. With the support provided, I aim to access resources, mentorship, and experiences that will empower me to continue excelling despite obstacles. I am eager to leverage this opportunity to its fullest, driving positive impact and innovation in both academia and the workforce, while also serving as an advocate for inclusivity and accessibility." - Fabrizio Aliaga, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Carleton University.  

"I'm very thankful to be a recipient of the NEADS Student Award. I'm a disabled and LGBTQ+ graduate student experiencing overlapping barriers to accessing education, many of which are financial. The NEADS Student Award offsets a significant portion of that financial burden, and it is encouraging to be supported by an organization that shares goals and values similar to mine. I will continue to work toward becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist and giving back to the disability community. Thanks so much to NEADS for supporting me in this journey." - Frank Day, Masters of Science Human Communication Disorders Speech-Language Pathology, Dalhousie University.

"Receiving this scholarship represents much more than financial assistance for me. It's a validation of my commitment to academic excellence and a recognition of my efforts. Thanks to this bursary, I'll be able to devote more time to my research project for neurodivergent university students. This bursary will allow me to reduce the financial stress and the hours devoted to paid work, so that I can devote myself fully to achieving my career goals." - Mathilde Chagnon, Master of Health Science, Université De Sherbrooke.  

Canada Post Award Recipient ($10,000)

The Canada Post Student Award, launched in 2020, recognizes contributions made to Canadian society through community development and knowledge sharing, and is given to a student who demonstrates leadership, innovation, respect and integrity in their research, studies and community involvement. Back on March 18th Canada Post and NEADS announced Gabrielle Veileux-Verreault as the 2023 recipient of the Canada Post Award! Gabrielle is completing a PHD in Bioethics in Environmental Science at Université De Montréal. .

Gabrielle's response to the news that she was selected as the 2023 Canada Post Award recipient was: 

“For me, receiving the NEADS award is a reminder that even difficult conditions can blossom into great potential if the right environment and tools are available. The support and love of those around me created a fertile environment in which I was able (though belated) to find the space I needed to grow and take my place. This award will allow me to pursue my activities, and I hope to be able to grow this garden of opportunity, where other souls, projects and ideas can also flourish." – Gabrielle Veilleux-Verreault, PhD student in Bioethics, Université de Montréal. 

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) Recipients ($5,000)

AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.

AMI previously announced the winners of its 2023 AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships on its social media accounts. The recipients of the 2023 AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships are Linda Cho  and François Bellemare. Linda is completing a Honours Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience & Mental Health degree at Carleton University and François is completing a PHD in Clinical Psychology at Université de Montréal.

Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group Scholarship Recipient ($5,000)

NEADS and Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group are pleased to announce Cassandra Pitchford as the recipient of the 2nd annual Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a student who displays community leadership, and is enrolled in a three+ year program in business, economics, computer science/technology or engineering. Cassandra is completing a Bachelor Science in Mechanical Engineering at University of New Brunswick. When asked what receiving this award means to her, Cassandra said:

"The 2023 Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group Scholarship has been instrumental in lightening my financial load, enabling me to focus on my studies as I finish my mechanical engineering degree. This support is invaluable to my family and me!" - Cassandra Pitchford, Bachelor Science in Mechanical Engineering, University of New Brunswick.   

NEADS Holly Bartlett Memorial Award Recipient ($1,000)

The Holly Bartlett Memorial Award was established by the NEADS board of directors after Holly's passing in 2010. Holly served on the NEADS Board of Directors as the association’s Nova Scotia Director for a number of years. Holly's accomplishments, in a life that was way too short, were phenomenal. This is the 14th year for the Award in Holly's memory. A big congratulations goes out to the 2023 award recipient, Allison Cote who is completing an Honours Physics (Medical Physics degree at University of Windsor.

NEADS Christine Nieder Memorial Award Recipient ($1,000)  

The Christine Nieder Memorial Award was established in 2015 to commemorate the life and contributions of Ms. Christine Nieder, NEADS Board member, who passed away in July 2014. The award is offered to a graduate student in recognition of Christine’s passionate work to address barriers faced by disabled students in graduate studies. A big congratulations goes out to the 2023 award recipient, Aisha Mao who is in the Master of Information Technology program at Carleton University. 

When notified she was the recipient of the Christine Nieder Memorial Award, Aisha said

"I'm deeply honoured to accept the 2023 Christine Nieder Memorial Award. This award means the world to me, and I want to thank the committee for their belief in my potential. As a proud recipient of this award, I am empowered to focus on my studies, engage in meaningful research, and ultimately advance towards my career goals in the field of Information Technology" - Aisha Mao, Master of Information Technology Program, Carleton University.

Katelyn Mitchell Memorial Award for the Visually Impaired Recipient ($1,000)

The Katelyn Mitchell Memorial Award for the Visually Impaired was established to support access to higher education for students who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind. Funded by a group of private donors in Western Canada, the award is valued at $1,000 and is granted yearly to a student with a vision related disability. A big congratulations goes out to the 2023 recipient, Lucas Pokotylo, who is pursuing a Bachelors of Science double major biology-psychology degree at the University of Victoria .

"A huge congratulations to this year’s award recipients," Says Katja Newman, Director of NEADS Financial Assistance Programs. "The recipients demonstrate excellence in their academics, extra-curriculars, and self-advocacy efforts in a way that is incredibly transformative for themselves and others. We hope these awards empower recipients to build on their leadership efforts and drive inclusion forward in their own unique ways” - Katja Newman, Director of the NEADS Financial Assistance Programs.

Thank you to the 2023 Student Awards Selection Committee:

In an effort to expand and diversify its selection committee, in 2021 NEADS, began recruiting a small group of individuals from other external disability, advocacy and inclusion organizations to join its annual selection committee. Alongside NEADS staff and board members, these individuals contributed to the scoring process for recipients of all award types other than the Accessible Media Inc. Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships.

"It is important to us that our applicants are being scored by individuals who have an intimate knowledge of barriers faced by young people with disabilities as well as first hand knowledge of good quality advocacy and inclusion work," says NEADS Financial Assistance Programs Director Katja Newman. "Inviting individuals from diverse backgrounds and different geographical areas who in some way support advocacy and inclusion in their local communities, some of whom even had disabilities themselves, to join in the scoring and selection process seemed like a fantastic way to improve and further develop the recipient selection process."

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the following organizations who had a representative who gave their time and expertise as a part of the 2023 selection Committee:

Independent Living Resource Centre of Calgary

Barrier Free Saskatchewan


Inclusion Advocacy SENB


Manitoba League of Persons With Disabilities

Rebranding The NEADS National Student Awards Program as the NEADS Financial Assistance Program

The 2023 application period was the last round of the NEADS National Student Awards Program. In the fall 2023 semester, the program underwent a rebranding and will now be known as the NEADS Financial Assistance Program. The new financial assistance program will blend together elements of the former NEADS Student Awards Program and the NEADS Accessibility Resilience Program that ran from 2020-2022 into one streamlined initiative  that better responds to the needs of students with disabilities. This change is prompted by overwhelming feedback from the #MyNEADS (hashtag My NEADS) community that the tuition based scholarships offered under the former NEADS National Student awards Program no longer adequately address the broad spectrum of financial needs facing students with disabilities. 

The NEADS Financial Assistance Program will introduce a new  and exciting model of financial support. Applicants will have the option of applying to grants intended to offset the cost of items including tuition, assistive technology, computers and tablets, ergonomic equipment, rent, food, learning supports, mental health and wellness services and medical supplies. The partner funded tuition scholarships offered under the former NEADS National Student Awards Program will also continue to be offered, including the Canada Post Award for Students With Disabilities, Accessible Media Inc. Sir Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships and Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group Scholarship. Other exciting improvements include a semesterly system of distributing funding rather than the former annual format of the NEADS National Student Awards Program and options to submit responses to short essay questions in alternative, non-written formats. 

Appendix - Alphabetized $3,000 NEADS Student Awards 2023 Recipients, including programs of study and schools:

Acacia Cousins, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, University of Victoria   

Adele Mark, Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, University of Victoria   

Alexandra Elmslie, Honours Specialization BSc Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Western Ontario 

Amy Z-S, Medicine, University of Ottawa 

Andriy Hrabchuk, Bachelor of Arts in Social Development Studies with Co-op, University of Waterloo  

Anonymous Student, Doctor of Medicine, University of Toronto   

Anonymous Student, PHD in Psychology, Toronto Metropolitan University  

Anonymous Student, Masters of Social Work Thesis, Laurentian University   

Campbell Kaye, Bachelor of Arts in Media Production,   

Catherine Cadigan, Bachelor of Arts Sociology and Indigenous Studies, Queen's University 

Chelsea Tanchip, PHD in Rehabilitation Science, Speech Language Pathology, University of Toronto

Chelsea Westrom, Masters of Clinical Social Work, University of Calgary  

Christina Szczygiel, Master of Science, Athabasca University  

Elisha Gunaratnman, Master Advanced Studies in European & International Human Rights , Leiden University 

Emily Krispis, Master of Public Policy, University of Toronto   

Evan Chan,PHD in Music Theory, University of Toronto  

Fabrizio Aliaga, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Carleton University   

Frank Day, Masters of Science Human Communication Disorders (Speech-Language Pathology, Dalhousie University 

Geneviève Larocque, Master of Information Science, Université de Montréal

Grace Heer, Bachelor of Arts in History, Mount Royal University   

Heather Morgan, PHD in Theological Studies, University of Toronto  

Jan Wozniak, Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Toronto Metropolitan University   

J' Ramsankar, Bachelor of kinesiology, University of Alberta 

Kerr Joshua N, Honours Bachelor of Science (Psychological & Health Sciences - Co-op), University of Toronto

Kinlagh Boudreau, Sports Journalism, Arizona State University,   

Lakoda Thomas, Bachelor of Science, major in psychology, Honors, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Laurel Schmanda, Undergraduate Medical Education, Northern School of Medicine University   

Leaf Pankratz, Master of Arts in Theatre Studies, University of Guelph  

Leo Bourgeois, Juris Doctor, Dalhousie University   

Lexi Salt, Master of Arts in Community Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University   

Mackenzie Dykeman, Bachelor of Science (Hons) – Bioarchaelology, University of York 

Map Poulin, Major French Interpretation LSQ, Université du Québec à Montréal

Martin Leduc, Honours BSocSc Political Science and Juris Doctor (JD), University of Ottawa  

Mathilde Chagnon, "Master of Health Science, Université De Sherbrooke  

Meredith Brison-Brown, Master of Science Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University   

Michael Jones, Bachelor of applied Science in Chemical Engineering, Queen's University  

Mitchell Ferguson, Life Science Program, University of Toronto 

Nethmi Illamperuma, Bachelor of Health Sciences, Queen's University 

Nicole Melanson, Bachelor of Social Work, University of Manitoba  

Nicole Schmidt, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Honours), and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, University of Calgary 

Noah Rolland, Joint Bachelor of Social Science in Economics & Political Science, University of Ottawa   

Olivia Greco, Bachelor of Commerce, University of Calgary  

Paige Harrison, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia, Okanagan  

Paige Smith, Master of Fine Arts, University of Waterloo  

Pascale Malenfant, Joint Bachelor of Civil Law/Juris Doctor, McGill University  

Samantha Krieg, Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Sam Turpin, Bachelor of Sexology, Université du Québec à Montréal 

Samuel Lamb, Audio Engineering & Music Production, Okanagan College   

Sophie Rochette Bragg, Bachelor of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal

For further information:

Frank Smith, National Coordinator, National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6

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