April 14, 2022

Arts student is first from UCalgary to be named a McCall MacBain Scholar

Emilee Bews recognized for her community engagement, leadership potential and entrepreneurial spirit
Emilee Bews
Alex Tran

In late March, UCalgary student Emilee Bews, BA’22, had the unique opportunity to join aspiring leaders from across Canada at McCall MacBain Scholarship final interviews in Montréal.

Upon her return to Calgary, Bews received a life-changing video call from Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain and the scholarship staff — she had been chosen for the scholarship.

“It was the greatest feeling to be named a McCall MacBain Scholar,” Bews says. “I was sitting next to my family when I received the call, and I’m so grateful I got to share that moment (and many happy tears) with them. I’m excited to begin this journey and look forward to all the opportunities to come.”

Bews will join a class of 20 scholars, chosen from nearly 700 Canadian applicants through a rigorous seven-month process involving two rounds of interviews. She is the first UCalgary student to earn this award.

Fully funded master's degree at McGill

As a McCall MacBain Scholar, she will pursue a fully funded master’s degree at McGill University while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program. The scholarship funding covers the program’s tuition and fees, as well as a living stipend of $2,000 per month.

“This scholarship opens so many doors, allowing me to further my studies and work towards creating meaningful change with Indigenous education,” she says. “I’m thrilled to be a part of a cohort that allows me to learn with and from the other scholars while having the opportunity to develop and share my passion.”

Bews is completing a Bachelor of Arts and currently serves as the Indigenous librarian assistant at UCalgary. She also volunteers as an Indigenous student peer mentor and has previously served on Calgary's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Committee.

“I love my role as a peer mentor with UCalgary's Indigenous Student Access Program,” she says. “That student-to-student support is so valuable in building a sense of community and maintaining cultural connections as our mentees navigate their first year of university studies.”

"Emilee is an ambitious, kind, and devoted student leader," says Reagan Markwell, co-ordinator of the Indigenous Student Access Program. "She's done so much to foster an environment of support, equity, and inclusivity for students, all while achieving excellence in her academics. 

She’s an amazing role model and support to those around her, and we look forward to seeing her continue to create positive change throughout her future endeavours.

During the pandemic, in her summer student role with the Student Success Centre, Bews facilitated creative writing workshops and developed summer camp programs for elementary school students. She also volunteered at the annual Indigenous Graduation Celebration and will be honoured with other graduates at this gifting ceremony in June.

'Inclusive, collaborative, forward-thinking leaders'

In September, Bews will pursue a Master of Arts in Education and Society at McGill. “We need inclusive, collaborative, and forward-thinking leaders in all sectors and fields,” says John McCall MacBain, who, together with his wife Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, created these scholarships through a historic gift to McGill University.

“With this scholarship, students will expand their networks, deepen their leadership skills, and benefit from full funding to pursue their dreams of improving their communities — and the world. Congratulations to these students and the hundreds of candidates across Canada who were considered for this scholarship.”

Each scholar was chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.

“Our new scholars have taken different paths towards this moment and will contribute unique perspectives to the scholarship community,” says Natasha Sawh, dean of the McCall MacBain Scholarships.

“The selection committees looked for leadership potential, a willingness to engage with diverse perspectives, and traits like empathy, integrity, and grit. Our process incorporates a wide range of volunteer readers and interviewers, who understand the candidates and their varied experiences.”

More than 130 Canadian leaders volunteered their time to help select McCall MacBain Scholars. They reviewed nearly 700 applications, interviewed 146 students regionally, and invited 50 to a final set of interviews which took place in March.

About the McCall MacBain Scholarship program

The McCall MacBain Scholarships are the result of a historic $200-million gift to McGill University, which at the time was the largest single donation in Canadian history. The scholarships are planned to continue in perpetuity and will expand this year to include students from around the world. Information sessions for the first global cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars are currently underway, and applications will open in June.

In addition to selecting 20 McCall MacBain Scholars, the McCall MacBain Scholarships program and McGill University have offered 54 entrance awards of $5,000 or $10,000 each to promising candidates. Altogether, this year’s 74 scholarships represent an estimated commitment of nearly $2 million in tuition and living costs alone, which will be complemented by mentorship and leadership development programming.