This culinary event in Toronto supports the next generation of Indigenous scholars

Every student deserves a chance to reach their full potential, but oftentimes Indigenous youth are faced with additional challenges when it comes to breaking cycles and achieving goals.

According to Statistics Canada, just under two-thirds (63%) of Indigenous youth graduate high school, compared with 91% of the non-Indigenous population.

Displacement as a result of Canada's residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, along with other societal shortcomings, has resulted in a cultural genocide that negatively affects Indigenous peoples to this day.

Indspire envisions a future where every Indigenous student graduates. The national non-profit organization works passionately to invest in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people across the country by disbursing financial awards, delivering programs, and sharing resources.

IndspireAhead of its upcoming biennial fundraising event on June 12, 2024 in Toronto, A Feast in the Forest — which sold out in its first year — Daily Hive caught up with Chyana, an Edmonton student who wound up landing an incredible career opportunity with the support of Indspire's bursaries and scholarships.

Meet Chyana 

Chyana has experienced Indspire’s impact firsthand. From Edmonton, Alberta, and a member of the Louis Bull Tribe from Maskwacis (ᑭᓭ ᐸᑎᓇᕽ, kisipatnahk) with Cree and German heritage, Chyana completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta.


When the pandemic struck, Chyana began working on a memoir and realized her dream of pursuing graduate studies. Although she was worried about the financial burden of post-secondary education, she applied to six different programs and received acceptances from all, but one in particular especially stood out.

“When I got the call from Columbia, something in my spirit told me that it was the right choice. I got off the phone and started crying, amazed at how far I had come.”

Growing up, things weren’t always easy for Chyana. Her father dealt drugs and was gang-affiliated, and teachers often unfairly wrote her off because of her Indigeneity.

“I remember being told that I was good for nothing and going nowhere in life by one of the teachers at school,” Chyana recalls. “I was policed and villainized in that ways other students weren’t.”

Earned victories and international obstacles

Acceptance into Columbia was a massive victory for Chyana, but it didn’t come without additional struggles. Columbia is located in New York, which means that because Chyana would be studying outside of Canada, many funding opportunities would not be available to her, and the financial burden would be substantial.

The idea that Indigenous students automatically get funding for their education is not true either — Chyana's band does a lottery application process, and despite her countless entries, she never received a dime.

“It almost prevented me from attending Columbia and getting my degree, which would have been the biggest missed opportunity for me as a human in this world trying to better my life circumstances.”

Securing Indspire's support

Chyana discovered Indspire when searching for scholarship opportunities that were open to students studying outside of Canada.

IndspireShe describes the application process as “quite streamlined and easy,” consisting of an online portal, and a few forms that were physically mailed out. Indspire was quick to respond to any questions Chyana had, and would touch base with applicants to ensure all documents were received on time.

When Chyana received her first Indspire installment, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She was struggling with rent and food shortages and didn’t know where her next meal would come from.

“Indspire literally fed me, housed me, and made surviving possible while I was studying.”

During her time at Columbia, Chyana completed her memoir, landed an agent, and secured a book deal. Her memoir, Soft As Bones, will hit shelves in the winter of 2025. In the meantime, you can follow her on Instagram and YouTube for updates under the username @softasbones.

How you can help the next generation

Chyana is one of many Indigenous students who have achieved success in their own right thanks to financial help from Indspire. Indspire relies on the generosity of donors to continue their work, and while they are always grateful for donations, they also have opportunities for you to have fun with your philanthropy.


On June 12, 2024, Indspire will host its second biennial A Feast in the Forest event. This year’s menu will be prepared by renowned Chef David Wolfman and will feature music from DJ Fawn Big Canoe and performances from Aysanabee, Red Sky Performance, and Alex Kusturok.

Hosted at the lush and unique Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, A Feast in the Forest is sure to be a memorable night of talent and fundraising that will create incredible benefits for students like Chyana for years to come.

The 2022 event sold out very quickly, so be sure to secure your table or individual tickets in advance to avoid the waitlist.

To learn more about Indspire’s impact, and how you can support their cause, visit them online.

Indspire presents: A Feast in the Forest 2024
  • When: Wednesday, June 12, 2024
  • Time: 6 pm
  • Where: Evergreen Brick Works — 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
  • Tickets: Purchase tables or individual tickets here.
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