Queen's University student wins scholarship, which commemorates the Montreal Massacre
OTTAWA -- An Indigenous student at Queen’s University in Kingston is the recipient of a prestigious $30,000 scholarship, which commemorates the Montreal Massacre.
Brielle Thorsen is pursuing her Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s.
The scholarship is awarded to a female engineering student who is taking her graduate studies in engineering each year. This is the sixth year it has been awarded, and the first time a Queen’s student has received it.
Over the years, white roses have become the symbol of Polytechnique Montréal’s commemorative activities to mark the tragedy of December 6, 1989, which cost the lives of 14 young women and injured several others.
"In receiving this award I realize how privileged I am to be a woman studying engineering, that I do feel safe in the classroom," says Thorsen. "Their lives and their efforts have enabled me and my classmates to study safely and although we still have more work to advance gender equality and equity in engineering, I never will forget them."
The 22-year-old says her love of science and learning has always been there. Her father is an engineer, and her mother is a laboratory and X-ray technologist, and they fostered her love of math and science.
"I would beg my parents to write math problems for me to do," Thorsen said with a laugh. "I would just sit at my little desk and do math."
A Cree woman from Cochrane, near Calgary, she plans to use her degree to bring sustainable energy to benefit Indigenous communities in the north and to run her own business.
Thorsen says she hopes other women - and especially Indigenous women and other women of colour - feel inspired to pursue their dreams.
"To little girls, follow your passions and do not let society decide who you are or limit your potential, because your possibilities are endless," she said in an interview with CTV News Ottawa. "Your lived experiences matter, and STEM is the perfect place for you."
While accepting her award on Thursday, Thorsen said she feels hope for her future profession, because of the women of Polytechnique Montreal.
"I know that my generation, and the next generation, will continue the work of Michelle, and Natalie and all those who came before us."