The Story Behind the Jacob Wilson Memorial Award

8 January 2024News & Announcements, Stories of Impact

Jacob was a gifted and musical student – between him and his sister, they played 11 instruments in total. While he was in the 6th grade, his musical talent led him to be in one of the first student concert bands to have played a concert on the Great Wall of China. Like many young people, he had a wide variety of interests – from enrolling in late French immersion in middle school, to tackling a trade focused education when he was in Grade 11. In 2015, he graduated from WJ Mouat while having completed the heavy equipment operators’ program. 

In 2018, Jacob suffered a near fatal accident as a pedestrian. He survived but had to work hard through a long and challenging rehabilitation process, a traumatic brain injury, and ultimately, substance abuse issues. Sadly, Jacob passed away at the age of 24, well before he could pursue the traveling, adventures, and musicality he had planned for his life. 

Shirley, Jacob’s mom, had been a long time school trustee and knew the Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF) from her time having presented many student awards over the years. She knew that so many students could be supported in achieving their post secondary dreams through these bursaries and scholarships. It was through this program that she knew many awards, some which she had assisted in creating, were made in memory of those who had passed. 

With this experience and knowledge, Jacob’s family decided to start the Jacob Wilson Memorial Award with ACF – inspired by, and a tribute to, Jacob himself. They wanted a way to continue to honour him and to celebrate the life that he had lived.  So in the midst of their grief, they chose to ask friends and family for donations to Jacob’s fund, in lieu of flowers. It was through these gifts from those who loved Jacob best, that the family was able to fund the Jacob Wilson Memorial Award.

Learn how you can become a Student Award Maker, too! Please contact our Executive Director, Areni Kelleppan –


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We respectfully acknowledge that we are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Stó:lō people, the Semá:th First Nation and Mathxwí First Nation. As treaty People, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, we share the responsibility for the continued stewardship of this beautiful land.