Canadian Indigenous art: an orca in black, white, and red.

The BC Orca Bursary Program awards financial assistance to youth from care who plan to pursue a post-secondary program at an accredited BC institution.

The program originated with Peggy Howard, an adoptee who wanted to help foster youth pursue their educational dreams, who, along with family and friends, established the first Howard Legacy Fund bursaries in 2009.

In 2022, the program garnered the attention of philanthropist and adoptive mom Tracey McVicar, who, together with a group of founding families, made it possible to expand from 2 to over 20 bursaries per year. It was renamed the BC Orca Bursary Program, referencing the orca as a symbol of family for many West Coast Indigenous peoples. The logo was designed by well-known Haida artist Cori Savard.

The philanthropists’ long-term vision is to partner with the Belonging Network to develop additional supports, such as career coaching and connection to summer jobs and internships.

Bursaries were awarded to 27 recipients in 2023. Bursary amounts vary from recipient to recipient and average $3,000.

How the bursary can be used

Bursaries can be used for any expense related to a vocational, trade, or academic post-secondary program. Examples include school fees, living expenses, childcare, computers, textbooks, health care, or equipment. 

This flexibility means that youth who qualify for tuition waivers or Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) funding can still benefit from the bursaries.

You are eligible and encouraged to apply for these bursaries even if you are currently receiving funding from the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, but meet the other eligibility criteria.


This bursary is for youth from care. For this program, “youth from care” is defined as:

  • having been in care of government for at least two years (includes voluntary care agreements, special needs agreements, youth agreements, independent living agreements, temporary custody orders, or  continuing custody orders);
  • or lived with a family member (other than a parent) or another adult for at least two years, as part of an agreement or custody order with the Ministry of Children and Family Development or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency;
  • or been on a youth agreement for at least two years. 

Other extenuating circumstances will be considered.

Other requirements

  • You are currently a BC resident.
  • You are a youth in or from government care in BC (according to the definition above specified by the Ministry of Child and Family Development, with special consideration for extenuating circumstances)
  • You are 26 years of age or younger at the application deadline.
  • You are registered, or plan to be registered, in a post-secondary program at an accredited BC institution resulting in a degree or diploma. Your start date must be within one year of the application deadline. Recipients will be required to provide proof of enrollment.

You are or will be a full-time student.


2024 bursary applications are now closed. Stay tuned for updates on this year’s recipients.

BC Orca Bursary Program founding families

Anthony family
Bertram family
Peter and Joanne Brown Foundation
Burke/Yurkovich family
Bustos family
Linde family and Emily Davies
Louis family
Montalbano family
McKitrick family
McVicar family
Pejman family
Randall family
Shumka family
Veldhuis/Slee family
and TELUS, founding corporate sponsor