Crystal Davey spent much of her early childhood moving from home to home and school to school.
The Rocky Bay First Nation member grew up as a Crown ward and attended over 40 schools by the time she was 10 years old. Then she came under the care of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and her life improved from there.
Now the 28-year-old is a spokesperson for the Dilico Children’s Foundation’s Aim High campaign, which is aimed at raising awareness and funds for its various educational programs for children in care. The campaign was launched in response to the growing demand for financial assistance felt by youth pursuing higher education and career opportunities.
Among the programs is the Rising Eagle Bursary Fund, which is an option for the 6,000-plus children and youth who access the child welfare and mental health services offered by Dilico Anishinabek Family Care each year. The program provides education incentives, cultural opportunities, scholarships and bursaries to youth who demonstrate merit and financial need.
As a child who grew up in care, Davey understands first-hand the impact and incentive receiving financial assistance can have on a child.
“I received an award when I was in high school and I can see that the kids thought that was pretty amazing and I could see that kids are really excited to be appreciated and recognized for positive things rather than the negative stuff,” she said.
Davey grew into a role model for the other children and was the first person under Dilico’s care to attend post-secondary school. She entered into a three-year compressed Bachelor of Science in nursing program where she achieved first class standing. Then she began work as a full-time pediatric registered nurse and went on to complete a master’s degree in public health nursing, where she also earned a nurse practitioner certificate.
Davey is now nurse practitioner with Dilico’s Family Health Team.
“With Dilico’s help and my foster parents, they encouraged me to stay in school and continue on and be whoever I wanted to be,” Davey said.
Over half of Canada’s Aboriginal population is expected to be 25 years of age or younger by 2020. Davey said the need to support and promote education and training among this group is important, which is why she agreed to be the campaign spokesperson.
“I want to continue to be a positive role model for Aboriginal kids and foster kids and continue on to follow their dreams,” she said. Davey plans on continuing her education by going to medical school.
The Aim High campaign launch was marked with a $5,000 donation made by TD Bank to be awarded to a deserving student pursuing post-secondary education this fall.
“We are absolutely thrilled to provide this award to a deserving student and we are very excited about the opportunity to offer a mentorship component as well,” said Rich Coulterman, district vice-president of TD’s northwestern Ontario commercial banking group in a press release. “Aboriginal youth are key to the success of our community and being here today to encourage them to aim high in their achievements is an amazing thing.”
For more information about the Aim High campaign or to donate to the Rising Eagle Bursary Fund, interested parties can visit www.dilicochildrensfoundation.com.
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