New Student Awards Honour Legacy of VIU Alum Micah Messent

Micah Messent legacy awards, VIU Foundation

The family of Micah Messent, a VIU graduate who passed away in a plane crash last spring, is honouring his memory through a set of awards that support Indigenous students in need. Photo credit: Monica Phung.

December 5, 2019 - 3:15pm

Two awards in memory of a VIU graduate who passed away in a plane crash in March 2019 will be given out to Indigenous students in need in 2020.

Friends and family of Micah Messent remember the Vancouver Island University (VIU) graduate as a caring, community-oriented individual who focused on helping those around him. To honour this legacy of supporting and encouraging others, Messent’s family has established an endowment fund through the VIU Foundation that will give Indigenous students in need a hand up.

Messent, who graduated from Georges P. Vanier School in Courtenay in 2013 and VIU in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies, was on his way to the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, last March when the Ethiopian Airlines plane he was on crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all passengers aboard. He was 23 years old.

“We are trying to walk in his path a little bit, we’re thinking to ourselves, ‘What would Micah do?’” explains his sister, Jade Ballard. “He always tried to lift everyone up and help move everyone forward together. Through this endowment, every year we hope to reflect on some of the issues he was passionate about, support communities and students, and help to create a better world.”

Micah Messent, photo credit Monica PhungAfter graduating from VIU, Messent, who has Métis heritage on his mother’s side, started work with BC Parks in the Aboriginal Youth Internship Program in Victoria, travelling to various parks across the province to lead cultural awareness workshops for BC Parks employees. Messent planned to return to school to pursue a degree in Indigenous law.

“Micah generously shared his skills and knowledge of Aboriginal history and culture with family, friends and co-workers,” remembers his mother, Suzanne Camp. “He was inclusive of all in a way that helped them understand the importance of reconciliation. It was important to him that we all knew about the history and treatment of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.”

After his death, the family received an outpouring of support from the community and people were asking how they could help, says Ballard. The family decided to start a GoFundMe page to help channel these efforts. With the proceeds, the family created two financial awards at VIU that mirror Micah’s educational path.

The Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award will support an Indigenous learner entering the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies program with preference to a student graduating from Georges P. Vanier School. The Micah Messent Memorial Environment Award will be available to Indigenous students continuing their studies at VIU who have a history of community involvement and environmental advocacy.

“We are supporting two of his passions – education and the environment,” says Ballard. “Micah grasped every opportunity he could; this legacy will allow others to do that.”

The endowment is currently large enough to support one of the awards in perpetuity but the family is hoping to grow the fund so that both will be a lasting legacy in Messent’s name. Anyone interested in supporting the endowment is encouraged to contact the VIU Foundation at 250.740.6214.



Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Micah Messent and family

Tags: Community Engagement | VIU Foundation | Announcements

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