The Damien Bessette Scholarship Fund
The Damien Bessette Scholarship Fund was founded in 1988. The fund was started to honour the short seven year life of a young boy who was tragically killed in Winnipeg on November 6, 1988. He was the son of Gerry and Mary Bessette and little brother to Neil Bessette.
A message from Damien’s father, Gerry Bessette:
My favourite time of the year is when we award the Damien Bessette Scholarships to applicants who qualify.
I am extremely proud that the Irish Association of Manitoba has taken on this task for so many years.
On a personal note, I was always afraid that his name would be forgotten over the years, but these Scholarships help to keep his memory alive and gives some financial aid to our young people of the Irish Club which is very comforting to me.
Administration of Fund:
In June 2007 a new scholarship fund was created with The Winnipeg Foundation. Since then, the fund has been administered by The Winnipeg Foundation on behalf of The Irish Association. The seed monies for this new fund were generated through the Irish Invitational Golf Tournament from 2002 -2007. As of 2017 (10 years) this new fund has awarded nineteen (19) scholarships, for a total of $13,000. The Winnipeg Foundation determines the amount of money that is available for scholarship(s) each year, based on the investment return of the fund. Records for scholarships and dollar amounts prior to 2007, are not available.
Unfortunately, the Irish Invitational Golf Tournament is longer functioning.
Many members who have lost loved ones, have requested friends to make donations to The Damien Bessette Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers
A board of trustees are elected by the membership of The Irish Association of Manitoba to manage the scholarship awards on their behalf.
The trustees shall manage the fund by
1. Informing the membership when applications are available. This is generally done through the IAM Bulletin.
2. Sending applications out to interested and eligible members.
3. Selecting and approving eligible recipients.
4. Informing the successful applicants of their scholarships.
5. Liaison with The Winnipeg Foundation.
6. Provide a full report to the membership at the AGM of The Irish Association of Manitoba.
Present trustees are: Robert Wall, Acting Chair, Eric Isaacson, Foundation Liaison, Mary Kelly-Campbell, Anne Durcan and Bridgette Allen-Hampton.
To be eligible to receive a scholarship, an applicant must:
• Be a voting member of the Irish Association of Manitoba for a period of at least three consecutive years prior to applying for a scholarship, or the child or grandchild of such a member, and
• Be a registered full time student in a program of at least one year duration at a Canadian college, university or other institution of post-secondary training, and not have previously received a Damian Bessette Scholarship.
Note: Mr. Tim Ryan, the previous Chair of the trustees, was responsible for arranging the agreement with The Winnipeg Foundation. He was a wonderful and dedicated man, who unfortunately, passed away in September 2017