Thrifty Foods donation gives Vancouver Island students opportunity for "life-changing" summer job researching cancer

    BC Cancer Foundation High School Internship Program expands beyond
    Victoria with new endowment from Thrifty Foods

    VICTORIA, June 3 /CNW/ - Four years ago Navraj Chima had the summer job
of his lifetime conducting cancer research in a state-of-the-art research
centre in Victoria as one of the first participants in the BC Cancer Agency's
High School Internship Program. Now, thanks to a donation from Thrifty Foods,
Grade 11 students throughout Vancouver Island will have a chance to apply for
the same opportunity he had.
    Thrifty Foods has announced a donation of $25,000 to the BC Cancer
Foundation to establish the Thrifty Foods Cancer Research Endowment Fund to
support the high school summer internship program and ensure opportunities are
available for aspiring young people today and into the future from across
Vancouver Island.
    "Nothing beats hands-on research in a real lab alongside real scientists.
It was a phenomenal, life-changing experience," says Navaj Chima. The
21-year-old, who was 17 at the time of his internship, is now in his third
year of micro-biology at the University of Victoria. "Many of the experiments
I conducted and techniques I learned during my internship were so cutting
edge, I still haven't done them again, even after three years of university,"
he says. His summer with the BC Cancer Agency was a major influence in his
decision to pursue a career in either medical or health research.
    Thrifty Foods Vice President of Marketing and Communications Malcolm
Webster said, "I'm confident this scholarship fund will help ensure that
cancer research on Vancouver Island at the BC Cancer Agency remains as leading
edge as anywhere else in the world. Thrifty Foods is committed to investing in
youth and in our community."
    "It is a fitting tribute for Thrifty Foods to continue its strong
tradition of support for the BC Cancer Foundation and establish this
scholarship which ensures the internship program can continue," says Dr. Brad
Nelson, director of the BC Cancer Agency's Trev & Joyce Deeley Research
Centre, which is celebrating its fifth year of operation.
    "These students will be exposed to everything that we do here at the
research centre," Dr. Nelson says. "It is extremely important young people get
a taste of what research is all about so that today's researchers have someone
to pass the torch on to. This will benefit all of us terrifically today and
into the future."
    Laura Walsh, senior director of development with the BC Cancer Foundation
on Vancouver Island is excited to encourage high school students from
throughout Vancouver Island to participate in the internship. "Thanks to the
generosity of Thrifty Foods we will be able to continue to offer this once in
a lifetime opportunity for young people," she said. "The Thrifty Foods
donation will establish an endowed fund and ensure the continuity of this
vital educational program."
    The BC Cancer Agency's High School Internship Program, now in its fifth
year, is the only one of its kind in Canada. It is designed to offer Grade 11
students the opportunity to learn about cancer research through an eight-week
internship, working with some of British Columbia's top cancer researchers.
Each student who completes the internship receives a $3,000 bursary from the
BC Cancer Foundation towards their studies once they are accepted into a
post-secondary institution.
    And for the students who benefit from the program like Navraj Chima, the
Thrifty Foods donation was good news. "I think it is wonderful that Thrifty
Foods is helping other students to have the same opportunities I had," he
says. His summer experience has inspired him and former fellow intern Jenny
Chu to volunteer with the BC Cancer Foundation. "I am now part of a Youth in
Philanthropy committee to help young people raise funds and put on events for
the BC Cancer Foundation" he says. "When I signed up for the program I was
excited but I had no idea what kind of an impact it would have on my life. The
chance to interact with doctors and other caregivers at the BC Cancer Agency's
Centre as well as the researchers was just amazing."
    To support the high school internship program or other cancer research
programs through the BC Cancer Foundation, contact Laura Walsh, Director of
Development, BC Cancer Foundation, Vancouver Island at 250-519-5554.
    For information on the High School Internship Program please contact
Ann-Marie Braithwaite, Program Co-ordinator at 250-519-5700.

    Established in 1935, the BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support
research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency throughout B.C.

For further information:

For further information: Penny Noble, BC Cancer Foundation, Senior
Director, Public Affairs, (604) 707-5902, (604) 805-5637 (cell); Laura Walsh,
BC Cancer Foundation, Senior Director, Development, Vancouver Island, (250)
519-5554, (250) 480-9617 (cell)

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