We are thrilled to officially announce the HSBC Bank Canada Youth Opportunity Fund through the Children’s Aid Foundation – an initiative established to help current and former crown wards in the Greater Toronto Area achieve successful futures. Providing bursary support, tutoring support, and fee coverage for vocational assessments and academic upgrading, the fund helps crown wards, many of whom are struggling to overcome past abuse, neglect, extreme poverty, substance abuse, and mental illness, strive for successful futures.
As a former young person in care, Eleazer understands this reality first-hand. Fleeing from his war-torn native homeland of Angola, his mother was denied refugee status and left Eleazer and his brother in the care of a relative in Canada. When his relatives could no longer care for them, they were moved into the care of the Children’s Aid Society.
Despite the challenges of growing-up in foster care, separated from his biological family and learning English, Eleazer moved to semi-independent living at 18 and excelled academically. He was accepted into Wilfrid Laurier’s competitive School of Business and Economics, and with support from the HSBC Bank Canada Youth Opportunity Fund, was able to pursue a co-op position.
“Relief is the best way to describe the way I felt [upon receiving the HSBC funding],” he explains.
“The support came at a time when I was feeling stressed and alone. I was not eligible to receive OSAP, I was already depending on a Foundation scholarship to support myself, and I also didn’t have the luxury of receiving support from family.”
Citing the school’s co-op program as his primary motivation for applying, Eleazer explains that with the HSBC funding he was able to remain in the program that he had worked so hard to get into. “I was already working a part-time job, and I realized to take on more hours would have been to sacrifice my academics; I felt out of options.”
Eleazer, who has also volunteered extensively with organizations that support former youth in care, hopes to pursue a career in marketing after graduation.
“I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have received support from so many people and organizations, and for me it is those people’s confidence in me that gives me the strength to keep moving forward.”