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Flight 491 Legacy Fund supports students

The first students to benefit from the Flight 491 Legacy Fund received scholarships and bursaries at a ceremony at the D. F Cook Recital Hall on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus on Friday, Nov. 5.

Twenty-eight students of Memorial University, the Marine Institute and College of the North Atlantic received awards, some of which were presented by those affected by the crash of helicopter Flight 491 on March 12, 2009.

The Flight 491 Legacy Fund committee was established by industry partners, the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA), the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the St. John’s Oilfield Technical Society (OTS), to honour the memory of the people of Flight 491.

Some family members and survivor Robert Decker were on hand to present the scholarships to students. They were joined by Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial; Brian Henley, chair of the Legacy Fund committee; provincial Education Minister Dr. Darin King; Dr. Peter Fisher, head, Academic and Student Affairs, Marine Institute; and College of the North Atlantic President Bruce Hollett.

Mr. Henley addressed the families, saying people in the offshore industry continue to remember.

“While no action taken can erase the pain and loss that the families are experiencing, we believe that this meaningful and long lasting Legacy Fund will provide honour and respect to the people of Flight 491,” he said. “We are hopeful that it will be a way for young people in these educational institutions to remember and learn about the events of March 12, 2009.”

“This is the spirit of the legacy fund – to make a positive difference in the lives of young people for years to come,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “I hope that in knowing this, there is some measure of comfort to the families and friends.”

In his remarks, Dr. Fisher said the tragedy of Flight 491 was felt deeply at the Marine Institute, where most of the passengers trained at the MI’s Offshore Safety and Survival Centre.

“The establishment of this Legacy Fund, which will provide scholarships and bursaries for students on an ongoing basis, will ensure that something very positive is derived from the tragedy.”

“The college is honoured to be a part of this significant initiative,” said Mr. Hollett. “Scholarships make a very positive impact on the lives of our students – and what better way to honour the crew members and passengers of Flight 491 than to support future industry professionals as they work towards their goals. I want to thank everyone involved in making these scholarships and bursaries a reality.”

Mr. Henley said the Flight 491 Legacy Fund has already received donations in excess of $1.4 million with the balance to reach the stated goal of $1.5 million already committed.

As a result of these fundraising efforts, the committee presented eight awards to students of Memorial University in the amount of $2,100 each; eight awards for students at the Marine Institute of $2,100; and 12 awards for students of the College of the North Atlantic in the amount of $1,400 each.