Every year, three Indigenous students will have their financial burdens eased a little thanks to a Vancouver Island University (VIU) endowment fund created in honour of a graduate who died in a tragic plane crash two years ago.
Micah Messent was on his way to the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya on March 10, 2019, when the plane he was on crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all passengers aboard. He was 23 years old.
Following his death, friends and family established an endowment fund through the VIU Foundation to support future students and ensure his name and memory live on.
The fund has grown from supporting one annual award per year to three. It will also support an annual event for Indigenous learners at VIU that will encourage them to follow their dreams.
“The ability of this fund to support future students on their paths to success gives our family a level of comfort to know that Micah will continue to inspire others and make a difference for generations to come,” said Suzanne Camp, Messent’s mother.
“In life, Micah had looked to the future and talked about the time when he would be able to support other students in reaching their educational goals. The yearly awards will honour his memory and intentions even as we continue to grieve his death.”
After graduating from VIU, Messent, who has Métis heritage on his mother’s side, worked for BC Parks’ Aboriginal Youth Internship Program, travelling to various parks across the province to lead cultural awareness workshops for BC Parks employees. He planned to return to school to pursue a degree in Indigenous law. Camp says it was important to him that people knew the history and treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
“As well, the friends he made, the Indigenous connections and the feeling of community at VIU supported his experience and added to the success he achieved upon graduation,” said Camp.
The three awards honour two of Messent’s passions – education and the environment. The Micah Messent Memorial Geography Award, the Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award and Micah Messent Memorial Environment Award will be available annually to Indigenous students attending VIU, with various criteria attached to each.