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2021 Shannon Burwash Memorial Fund Scholarship Recipients Announced

November 16, 2021 — Calgary, AB — The Calgary Foundation is very pleased to announce the following scholarships have been awarded from the 2021 Shannon Burwash Memorial Fund. Qualified students from across Canada applied for the three available scholarships this past June.

$2,000 Leadership Award to Melissa Gablehaus 

Melissa is in her fourth and final year in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Calgary. She is very passionate about equine medicine and the equine industry. Melissa grew up being a very active member in 4-H, where she was the club and district president, as well as spending a significant amount of time volunteering, planning community events, and mentoring younger members. Melissa did her undergraduate studies at Mount Royal University in the Bachelor of Science program. Throughout veterinary school, she was the secretary of the UCVM Equine Club and the president of the UCVM Pathology Club, as well as the animal interaction representative. Outside of school, Melissa volunteered for several years with VetPD, which is a program that provides continuing education for veterinarians. This opportunity allowed Melissa to participate in a variety of topics within equine medicine and surgery and to take part in the hands-on portions of these conferences. Melissa also volunteered with Aggie Days and the Giddy Up program through the Calgary Stampede.

Outside of her academic commitments, Melissa enjoys riding and competing on her American Quarter Horse, Docs Stitch N Velvet. When she is not in school or spending time with Stitch, she spends the remainder of her time on her fiancé’s dairy farm. Upon graduation from veterinary school, she plans on working in a mixed animal clinic, with a special interest in equine medicine.

$2,000 Leadership Award to Melissa Gablehaus
$1,000 Encouragement Award to Jocelyn Leclaire

Jocelyn is a third-generation Clydesdale enthusiast and breeder from the Didsbury, Alberta. She grew up on her family’s “funny” farm northwest of town, where we owned cows, sheep, goats, a llama but best of all, horses. My two sisters and I were all expected to know the importance of all things horse from a very young age. My family foals approximately 10 Clydesdale mares a year, attends exhibitions and  preps the show string, all of which we were expected to and happy to help with. Horses have taught me the most important lessons I have ever learned, determination, compassion, respect, friendship, and trust, to name a few. The importance of horses in my life is immeasurable. I cannot imagine a career where I did not enjoy their presence, hence why I am pursuing veterinary medicine. After beginning my practice, I would like to specialize in equine reproduction. I am genuinely grateful for the Shannon Burwash Memorial award’s contribution to my education, as it is one step closer to pursuing my childhood dream.’

$1,000 Encouragement Award to Holly Frijters

Holly  will be attending the University of Alberta in the Fall of 2021 to start her undergraduate program of Bachelor of Science in Animal Health, with a Major in Companion and Performance Animals. Holly’s goal is to further study veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary or potentially abroad and eventually become an equine vet working with high performance horses. Ever since Holly was a young girl, horses have been her passion. She competitively show jumped for nearly thirteen years. Through her many years of working with these animals, Holly developed a strong appreciation for horses and the high standard of care they deserve. With her education, Holly wants to further her knowledge and give back to the animals and community that greatly influenced her life and career aspirations. Holly’s passion for horse and animal care is evident in her work experience. Holly’s work as a stable hand included caring for over 30 horses and meeting their individual daily needs. Holly also assisted in the training of young horses and developing their personal skills. Most recently Holly worked as a technician assistant at the Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency (SAVE) hospital where she got to firsthand experience veterinarians doing their amazing work. All of these experiences have help to solidify Holly’s dream of becoming a vet herself.

$1,000 Encouragement Award to Holly Frijters

Since 2016, there have been two different categories of scholarship awards:  

  • The Leadership Award is for students advancing past their second year of studies ($2,000 award).
  • The Encouragement Award is for first- or second-year students (2 X $1,000 awards).

“Again this year, we were extremely impressed with all of the scholarship applicants,” said Dr. Wayne Burwash. “This is the seventh year that The Calgary Foundation has awarded the scholarships since Shannon’s passing in 2013, and we have now awarded $27,000 in scholarships. Congratulations to all the recipients and best wishes for rewarding careers involving the horse.” 

Shannon Burwash with "Oprah" (Lopin Foran Invite) Credit: Holy Nicole Photography

Shannon Burwash was a leader and a lover of the horse industry across Canada. These scholarships are awarded to deserving students who are focused on getting a post-secondary education and becoming involved in the horse industry in their future. 

Help CQHA expand scholarship support with a donation to the Shannon Burwash Memorial Fund for Equine and Agricultural Studies

Our overall goal was to raise $125,000 so the fund can keep generating annual awards to deserving students into the future. Dr. Burwash is most appreciative of all the generous donors who have enabled us to reach this important milestone.  As of 2019, the fund reached its target goal of $125,000, but welcomes further donations so that it may increase the number of scholarships awarded annually.

To Donate:   

  • Online:  Visit choose “Donate” at the top, right hand side of webpage, then click on the link for “Donate to an Existing Fund”, and then search the drop-down menu for “Shannon Burwash Memorial Fund for Equine for Equine and Agricultural Studies” (listed alphabetically). VISA and MasterCard are accepted.
  • By Phone:  To pay by credit card over the phone, call 403-802-7700 during office hours 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. Please do NOT leave your credit card number on voicemail.
  • In Person: The Calgary Foundation, Kananoff Centre, #1180,105 12th Ave., SE, Calgary during office hours.
  • By Mail: Make cheques payable to The Calgary Foundation, indicating “Shannon Burwash Memorial Award” in the memo section.  Mail to:The Calgary Foundation, 1180 – 105 12 Avenue SE., Calgary, AB T2G 1A1
  • Tax receipts for Donations: A Canadian tax receipt will be issued for donations over $25.


For more information, contact Ms.Jesica Zutz  Awards Program Advisor, The Calgary Foundation at T: 403-802-7711 or E: jzutz@calgaryfoundation.or