Don McBain Memorial Award

Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services
April 28, 2023

Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) is proud to announce the Don McBain Memorial Award in honour of the late founder and Executive Director of OAHS. This award is comprised of three (3) $5,000 rewards that will be distributed annually to three (3) Indigenous students from Ontario pursuing their first year of post-secondary studies.

Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services’s mission and vision is to provide safe, sustainable, and affordable housing to urban and rural Indigenous people across the province of Ontario. In addition to providing housing services, OAHS supports the communities and people we serve in a variety of other honourable and charitable ways.

Don McBain was the driving force behind the establishment of OAHS which was incorporated in 1994 and had a positive impact on the lives of everyone he encountered. Don worked tirelessly for decades carrying out OAHS’s mission and vision. During his tenure, OAHS grew from a developing agent into a multi-faceted Corporation employing over 80 people, owning and administering a portfolio of over 2,300 safe and affordable housing units, and designing and delivering both repair and homeownership program opportunities.

We want to continue honouring Don’s legacy through the Don McBain Memorial Award and inspiring the future leaders of our province with this fund.

How to Apply

You are eligible for the award if you meet all the following criteria:

  • You self-identify as an Indigenous student (no status required).
  • You are enrolled in a program at a college, university, Indigenous post-secondary institution, or private trade school recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. To see if your school is recognized, visit the Province’s website.

You must submit the following supporting documents with your application form:

  1. Proof of education: Submit a copy of your letter of registration for the 2023-2024 (or equivalent) school year from your college, university, or private trade school. You must request this from your school’s registrar’s office. You may also submit a copy of your letter of acceptance to your chosen post-secondary institution.
  2. Signed release of information form: Please print and sign this form and submit it along with your supporting documents.
  3. Proof of financial need: Please print and sign this form and submit it along with your supporting documents.
  4. Your personal essay..
  5. Two letters of recommendation.

For those who are applying online, please submit a PDF file of the letter, and for those submitting through mail, please provide the letters in envelopes signed by their respective writers.

Application Essay

Please answer the following question in less than 1000 words in essay format:

“This award is founded in memory of Don McBain who influenced change in his community and
continues to inspire those he left behind. He was able to accomplish great things in his professional life by problem-solving and making positive changes. Today, our youth are facing unprecedented economic and social challenges (shortage of jobs, rising prices, climate changes, need for reconciliation, and many others).

In your essay, outline an issue currently facing young people you and your peers entering postsecondary education and describe how this problem could be solved and change implemented through your own field of study and personal goals.” If submitting online, the essay must be a PDF document.

Letter of Recommendation

In order for us to get to know you better, we want to know how others see you. Please provide two letters written and signed by the following individuals:

  1. A teacher from your secondary school
  2. Another member of the community you are close with (boss, Elder, family member, coach, etc.)
  • These letters should be no longer than a page and describe your character and why you should receive this award. For those who are applying online, please submit a PDF file of the letter, and for those submitting through mail, please provide the letters in envelopes signed by their respective writers.

Submitting Your Application

  • Eligible applicants can submit a completed application form and all supporting documents through our website or mail. All applications must be received by 4 p.m. on April 28, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered.
  • To fill out your application on our website, visit and fill in the form. All supporting documents can be uploaded through the form. Make sure all documents are in PDF files (except for personal project files) and are no more than 20MB each in size.
  • When uploading all documentation to our website, please have your name in the title of each file.

If you would like to mail your application, please enclose a printed form of the application, along with supporting documents (if you are completing your personal project and need to send a file, please send a USB stick with the correct file) to the following address:

Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services
Attn: Don McBain Memorial Award
500 Bay Street
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 1X5

Your application will be reviewed by a committee that includes representatives of Indigenous non-profit housing providers in Ontario and members of the McBain family. When they review your application, they will score you based on:

  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Effort put into answering the application essay
  • Two letters of recommendation

The amount of $5,000 will be awarded to three Indigenous students exclusively for their first year of post-secondary studies. This award will not be renewed the following year for those recipients. New students will receive the award each year.

Eligible uses for the award funds include:

  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Technology
  • Housing
  • Transportation, and living expenses during the first year of post-secondary education.