NEADS Announces Recipients of the 2021 NEADS National Student Awards and AMI Scholarship Programs!

(Ottawa, March 21, 2022)

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), and our funding partners: the Government of Canada's Goal Getters program, Canada Post and AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) and private donors, are excited to announce the outstanding winners of the 2021 NEADS Student Awards Program, including the NEADS Holly Bartlett Memorial Award and the NEADS Christine Nieder Memorial Award. We are also thrilled to acknowledge recipients of the Canada Post Award, the Campbell Mackinder Memorial Award for the Visually Impaired and AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships.

NEADS Student Awards Recipients ($3,000)

The NEADS National Student Awards Program is offered annually to encourage full access to post-secondary education for persons with disabilities, who often have greater barriers to participation in higher education, as well as extra costs because of their disabilities. Students must currently be registered in and continuing at a public post-secondary school and provide documented proof of registration as part of the application and on receipt of the award. The award is offered to outstanding applicants who meet the criteria of the program. The awards are paid directly to the post-secondary institution (in the students’ accounts) that the recipients are attending to defray the cost of tuition and other fees for post-secondary study.

Thanks to generous support from the Government of Canada’s Supports for Student Learning Program the number of available $3,000 NEADS Student Awards has grown from 11 awards in 2020 to 41 awards in 2021. The 41 outstanding recipients of this year's awards attend 24 post-secondary institutions across the country, studying an impressively broad range of subjects. Emphasis was placed this year on prioritizing funding to disabled students from multi-marginalized populations, particularly indigenous peoples, racialized communities, individuals from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and first generation Canadians. An alphabetized appendix listing the names and program information for 41 NEADS Student Award recipients is included at the end of this press release.

Testimonials from some of our outstanding NEADS Student Awards Recipients:

"The NEADS Student Award will make a significant difference in advancing my academic career goals. It will provide me with the support I need to complete my Master's degree in Community Planning at Vancouver Island University. Graduate school is extremely stressful, and this award will reduce my financial stress substantially, providing more time to focus on my studies. I want to thank the NEADS award committee for selecting me for this award. I honestly cannot thank you enough. I am highly honoured to accept this award as it will make a tremendous difference in completing graduate school" - Courtenay Miller, Vancouver Island University, Master of Community Planning.

"I am beyond thankful to have received one of the 2021 NEADS Student Awards. This scholarship removes financial barriers of attending university enabling me to focus on my studies instead of financial stress and increased work hours. This scholarship will ensure I become the teacher I need to be!" - Sydney Morrison, University of New Brunswick, Bachelor of Education Elementary Program.

"The NEADS Award has helped to validate my educational efforts. I feel invigorated and inspired by your support, knowing that I have more proponents in my quest to attain a higher level of education. It is this education that despite, the challenges I face, gives my voice clarity for those I inherently represent and the work I hope to do. I feel incredibly grateful and surprised - - thank you again!" - Franci Sterzer, University of Calgary, Masters of Psychology Applied Human Factors.

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

The Holly Bartlett Memorial Award was established by the NEADS board of directors after the passing of Holly in 2010. Holly Bartlett 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. The Holly Bartlett Memorial Award is a tribute to Holly. The scholarship assists students with disabilities realize success in post-secondary education. This is the 12th year for the Award in Holly's memory. A big congratulations goes out to the 2021 award recipient, Toan Phan who is completing a Bachelor of Science Molecular Biology & Biochemistry degree at Simon Fraser University.

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 will be, in most cases, offered to a graduate student with a disability in the amount of $1,000 in recognition of Christine’s passionate work to address barriers faced to participation in graduate programs of study. A big congratulations goes out to the 2021 award recipient, Kayla Lui who is completing a Master's in Global Politics at McMaster University.

Campbell Mackinder Memorial Award for the Visually Impaired Recipient ($1,000)

The Campbell Mackinder 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 Winnipeg, Manitoba, the award is valued at $1,000 and will be granted to a student with a visual related disability. A big congratulations goes out to this year's recipient, Brandon Joy, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Canada Post Award Recipient ($10,000)

The Canada Post Award launched in 2020 as part of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)/Canada Post partnership to support full access to education and the workforce for students with disabilities. the Canada Post Award recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of those who are leading by example and making a difference through knowledge sharing, community practice and innovation. The Award is open to students with a disability who are enrolled in a degree granting program in any discipline at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Canada Post and NEADS are very pleased to announce Alina Heck as the 2021 recipient of the 2nd annual Canada Post Award! Alina is studying Medicine at the University of Alberta. Valued at $10,000, the Award for Alina Heck will be provided to the University of Alberta to be placed in Alina's student account in support of current and upcoming tuition and/or other student fees, as she continues her studies.

When asked how the Canada Post Award would advance her academic and career goals Alina said:

"It is difficult to put this into just a few sentences... I am incredibly grateful to be receiving this award. This scholarship provides security and assurance that I will be able to continue the Doctor of Medicine program, but it will also allow me to expand community initiatives I am passionate about. I would like to dedicate a portion of the funds to my work as a member of the Canadian Association of Physicians with Disabilities; with the help of two community partners and a physician with disabilities, I am currently creating an educational module examining Canadian policies (both health policies and policies that indirectly impact health and wellbeing) and how they impact persons with disabilities. The module will be available for use to medical schools, students, and physicians across Canada and will aim to provide education on how physicians can best support their patients with accessibility needs, as well as highlight areas for improvement and unintended consequences of such policies" - Alina Heck, Doctor of Medicine program, University of Alberta.

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 2021 AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship program back on December 14, 2021. The recipients of this year’s AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship are Rebecca Nicol of Barrie, Ontario, and Mohamed Auda from Montreal, Quebec. Rebecca is in her first year of a two year Master's of Social Work program at the University of Toronto while Mohamed is completing his second year of Medical School at the Université de Montréal.

“There are so many barriers to education that persons with disabilities face and money is one of those things,” Rebecca says. “It’s so helpful to have something like this available to make those educational, academic spaces a little bit more accessible.” The scholarship will go directly towards Rebecca’s tuition. Mohamed will use his scholarship to pay for expenses related to medical school and sport; he plays handball for Canada’s national team.

The AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship program, which launched in 2012, is open to Canadian students enrolled in a diploma or degree program at a Canadian post-secondary school. Two scholarships valued at $5,000 each are awarded annually to students with a disability, one in English and one in French. NEADS manages the AMI Scholarships applications in a partnership with AMI and applicants apply for consideration for all awards/scholarships at the same time through our online application system.

"A huge congratulations to this year’s award recipients," Says Lauren Gravis, 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” - Lauren Gravis, Director of the NEADS Financial Assistance Programs.

Thank you to the 2021 Student Awards Selection Committee:

In an effort to expand and diversify its selection committee, this year NEADS, for the first time, recruited a small group of individuals from other external disability, advocacy and inclusion related organizations to join its selection committee. Alongside NEADS staff and board members, these individuals contributed to the scoring process for recipients of the NEADS National Student Awards, Holly Bartlett Memorial Award, Christine Nieder Memorial Award and Canada Post Award.

"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 Manager 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 2021 selection Committee:

Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods - British Columbia
Independent Living Resource Centre of Calgary - Alberta
Saskabilities - Saskatchewan
ABLE2 - Ontario
Association québécoise pour l'équité et l'inclusion au postsecondaire (AQEIPS) - Quebec
Inclusion Nova Scotia - Nova Scotia
Empower,The Disability Resource Centre - Newfoundland
Nuability - Nunavut

The 2022 application period for the NEADS National Student Awards Programs including the partner funded Canada Post Award, the Campbell Mackinder Memorial Award and AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship program began back on February 16th and applications will be accepted through May 31st 2022. For inquiries related to the AMI scholarships, please visit and or contact Janis Davidson Pressick, Marketing and Communications Manager (800) 567-6755 Ext. 0971, To submit an application in English visit or to access the French version of the application form, please visit
Appendix - Alphabetized NEADS Student Awards 2020/2021 Recipients, including programs of study and schools:

Ania Kolbuszewska, Bachelor of Sociology, Mount Allison University
Anika Daclan, Bachelor Science Nursing, Dalhousie University
Ameen Alnaser, Bachelor of Science, University of Manitoba
Archie Reid, Master in Visual and Media Arts, Université du Québec à Montréal
Benoît Dubreuil, Bachelor in Computer Science and Software Engineering, Université du Québec à Montréal
Carolyn Horwood, Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours, University of Calgary  
Cerenna-Tee Racey, Bachelor of Human Rights & Human Diversity, Wilfrid Laurier University
Courtenay Miller, Master of Community Planning, Vancouver Island University
Courtney Clayton, Bachelor of Arts, University of New Brunswick
Deirdre Cleveland, Master of Public & International Affairs, York University
Duaa Fatima, Bachelor of Health Science Honours Health & Society, University of Calgary
Emilee Schevers, Early Childhood Education, Mohawk College  
Emily Phelan, Concurrent Education (Bachelor of Honours Sciences, Bachelor of Education), Queen’s University
Erin Edghill, Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies, York University
Franci Sterzer, Master of Psychology Applied Human Factors, University of Calgary
Heather Cadigan, Bachelor of Arts Honours / Teacher Education Stream, Trent University
Isra Amsdr, Bachelor of Arts, Mount Allison University
Jordan Jones, Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy, University of Alberta
Julia Janzen, Bachelor of Sociology, Brock University
Krysten Spencer-Mueller, Doctorate of Developmental Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Lia Demmons, Bachelor of Business Administration, University of New Brunswick
Lana Trolley, Master of Social Work, University of Toronto
Laura Quinlan, Master of Sociology, University of Alberta
Leigh Dunn, Doctor of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Maia Ross, Bachelor of Arts - Honours Specialization in Classical Studies and Major in SASAH, University of Western Ontario
Madniha Mohsin, Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Guelph Humber
Maride-Philippe Lagueux-veilleux, Master in Psychoeducation, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Matt Reimer, Law - Juris Doctor, University of Manitoba
Mikael Schmidtke, Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Co-op, University of Alberta
Olivia Mew, Physician Assistant Program, McMaster University
Preston Swan-Merrison, Bachelor of Education Concurrent French, University of Windsor  
Rachel Lewis, Joint Degree in Common Law & Indiginous Legal Orders (JD/JID), University of Victoria
Samia Anwar, Bachelor of Software & Biomedical Engineering co-op, McMaster University
Samuel McNally, Geodesy & Geomatics Engineering, University of New Brunswick
Sophie Sutcliffe, Master of Laws, University of Calgary
Spencer Crawford, Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics Focus on Health, Francis Xavier University
Sydney Morrison, Bachelor of Education Elementary Program, University of New Brunswick
Tega Aror, Bachelor of Music Honours Voice Performance, University of Western Ontario
Vincent Boudreau, Bachelor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Moncton
Zoe Zias, Bachelor of Engineering, University of Western Ontario  
Zubaida Al-Khazraji, Bachelor of Science, University of Western Ontario

For further information:

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, tel. (613) 380-8065, ext. 201

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