Augustana donor hopes to make post-secondary education more accessible through new Indigenous student award

The recently-established Ptarmigan Foundation Indigenous Award will provide financial support for Indigenous students beginning this fall.

Sydney Tancowny - 24 June 2021

Photo of Wahkohtowin Lodge.

Beginning fall 2021, Augustana will offer an award to support Indigenous students’ education on campus in perpetuity, thanks to the Ptarmigan Foundation.

Established in 1997, the Calgary-based Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation supports various organizations, both domestic and international. While the recipients of their giving are diverse—youth centres, orphanages and health organizations, to name a few—their generosity is centred on providing opportunities for young people to live full lives.

“Our work has stayed consistent with being responsive to people’s needs and looking for opportunities to provide assistance,” said Richard Bird, Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation president.

“Our family has been very lucky, and we'd like to share some of that good fortune with others.”

Part of the foundation’s work has included aiding organizations that support Indigenous peoples. Over the past 15 years, the Ptarmigan Foundation has given to areas that help champion Indigenous language and culture, sports, physical fitness and outdoor adventure.

Continuing this work, Richard and his family have now established an endowment to fund the Ptarmigan Foundation Indigenous Award at Augustana. With selection based on academic standing and financial need, the award will help make post-secondary studies more accessible for an Indigenous student at Augustana every year. Furthermore, by endowing the award, the foundation has also ensured the award will continue to provide valuable financial support, year after year.

“People have a number of basic needs in order to progress in their lives, and we believe education is one of them,” said Richard. “We want to help so that students can have a broad array of options for whatever course they choose to follow in life.”

Recognizing the complexity of systemic issues that impact youth, especially those from Indigenous communities, the Ptarmigan Foundation hopes to help foster meaningful change, one student at a time. Like the other areas they donate to, the foundation is hoping to create more opportunities for young people, this time through their award for Indigenous students at Augustana.