Ariane Starblanket of the Cree Star Blanket First Nation in Saskatchewan is one of 34 recipients of the Millennium Excellence Award from the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The $4,000 prize enables her to attend any college or university of her choice.

“It was a big honour,” Starblanket said. “I plan on attending the First Nations University of Canada in the fall and pursuing a B.A. in Aboriginal Education.”

Her home is the rural community of Balcarres. Her hometown may be small, she said, “but you do your best to make opportunities available.”

Starblanket has done just that. She balances work, school and an active participation in the community, and this award recognizes her accomplishments as a student and community member. Last year as an active member and president of Building Community Bridges (BCB) she helped to provide Christmas gifts to Third World children.

She is also a proud member of the Elder Care Program. Her leadership qualities help her as a Big Sister, as an elementary school mentor to young children, president of the local Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and an enthusiastic coach and broomball player.

“There was lots of pressure to succeed,” Starblanket told the Nation. She credits some of that success to the teachers and the career counselor that kept her motivated and provided moral support. Her advice? “Stay in school. Speak your mind. Everyone has a voice. Use it more often. Talk to teachers and adults. They can provide lots of support.”