The Ozîja Thiha Education Trust (OTET) was established by Bearspaw Chief and Council to assist and encourage in the educational development of Bearspaw members with a view for them to complete their education at the trades, college and university levels and obtain a profession, trade or skill that will benefit themselves and in turn the Bearspaw Nation as a whole.
It is an independent Trust Fund recently established by Bearspaw Chief and Council to assist and recognize qualifying Bearspaw Students financially through incentives, scholarships and award programs at the grade and post-secondary education levels. The Trust Fund will provide funding in addition to other financial assistance received by students such as Indigenous Affairs government funding, student loans, and parental contributions.
The Board of Trustees manages the Trust Fund’s investments to earn the best possible rate of return consistent with safety. The trust deed itself sets the strict boundaries and restrictions for the types of investments that can be made. Trust Capital of the OTET is presently invested with the well-known investment firm Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel in a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.
The purpose and mission of the Ozîja Thiha Trust is to assist and encourage in the educational development of the human resources of the Bearspaw Nation with the view for members to successfully complete their education at the grade, upgrading, trades, college and university levels and obtain a profession, occupation or skill that will benefit themselves and in turn Bearspaw First Nation as a whole.
Bearspaw First Nation students who are accepted to or attending accredited secondary and post-secondary educational institutions on a full-time basis for grade school, technical trades, college and university programs may qualify depending on funding availability. The student’s name must also appear on the membership list controlled by Bearspaw First Nation to qualify under the Trust. Restrictions apply since the Ozîja Thiha Education Trust has just been established and funds are limited only scholarships and awards are provided at this time.
The Trustees were appointed by Bearspaw First Nation Chief and Council by Council Resolution 2022-01 on January 24, 2022. The Trustees appointed are Anthony Bearspaw, Pierre Lefthand and Rob Shotclose. Their term of office extends to February 2023 where it could be extended to a full term under the Trust Deed by Chief and Council.
No. The Trust Fund will only provide general financial support through incentives, scholarships, and awards to qualifying Bearspaw First Nation students. The Government of Canada through the Department of Indigenous Services Canada (“ISC”) has a first-line treaty obligation and trust responsibility for the payment of tuition, accommodation, travel, books and supplies for Bearspaw First Nation students.
Funding from OTET is only supplementary to any financial support from ISC through Bearspaw First Nation’s post-secondary office or elsewhere.
First and foremost is the OTET Trust Deed which is the primary document that sets out the overall detailed rules for the operation and must be followed at all times by the Board of Trustees. Copies of the trust deed are available to all Bearspaw First Nation members.
In addition to the Trust Deed, the Board of Trustees have and will develop detailed written policies in all areas of the administration and financial operations of the Trust including student incentives, scholarships and awards.
The Board of Trustees must also publish an annual report each year for distribution to the membership detailing their activity during the year and must include audited financial statements.
Although there is limited funding presently, it is hoped that many more scholarships, awards and incentives for Bearspaw First Nation students can be offered in the near future as the OTET Scholarship Programs grows.
Please refer to the website http://www.otet.ca for the most current information about awards.
No, not all the money can be spent. The Trustees can only expend Trust Revenue generated from the Trust Capital. They can expend funds provided directly for scholarships. The capital base of the Trust Fund, which is presently only $50,000, is held forever in trust for educational purposes for Bearspaw First Nation members and can never be spent. It is hoped that Trust Capital of the OTET will grow to millions of dollars over time in order to support all post-secondary students and take into account Bearspaw First Nation’s fast-growing population.
The education of our young people is the key to a promising future of the Bearspaw First Nation and its members. The newly established Ozîja Thiha Education Trust lays the framework for our support for our members to pursue higher education, for themselves, their families and for our Nation.
In recent years, great advances have been made by the Bearspaw First Nation to develop and expand our economy through various large economic development projects. What is needed now, is for our people to receive the proper training and education in order to operate and manage all of our economic interests now and in the future.
Our Ozîja Thiha Education Trust will assist, financially support and celebrate our students who represent the future of the Bearspaw First Nation. As education expenses are many times a difficult hurdle to post-secondary education, scholarships and awards are an effective way to invest in and directly impact the lives of our students. Bearspaw Chief and Council is greatly appreciative of the financial support already shown by our corporate sponsors.
The Ozîja Thiha Education Trust is another “tool” in our kit that will assist us and help insure the future of our Nation is promising, positive and bright.