A $1-million donation from philanthropists Norman and Gay Loveland will be used to finance bursaries for Indigenous law students at the University of Toronto.
Norman Loveland, a former tax lawyer and partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and an alumnus of the Faculty of Law at U of T, told CBC News that he has always thought it important to support educational opportunities for people of all backgrounds and walks of life.
“I think it’s very important that we support Indigenous people in pursuing fields such as education, engineering, and law, so that they will be at the forefront of tackling issues and working with their leaders in their communities,” said Gay Loveland, a retired teacher.
“I think this is a very important part of the reconciliation process.”
Amanda Carling, a Métis lawyer and manager of the Indigenous Initiatives Office at U of T's Faculty of Law, told Canadian Laywer magazine that she feels "deep gratitude" for the Lovelands' generosity.
Carling, a U of T law alumna, says there’s a misconception in Canada that all Indigenous people get a free education. “This could not be further from the truth,” she said. “Indigenous students work hard and take on significant debt in order to earn post-secondary degrees. Gay and Norman’s gift will help alleviate some of that financial burden and for some students will help make attending U of T Law a reality.”
Carling runs several initiatives to bolster Indigenous education in law through special speakers and events. She also runs programs to bolster Indigenous participation in legal fields through outreach programs such as the Indigenous Summer Youth Program for high school students.
“The small number of Indigenous lawyers that exist right now are mighty, but it’s a big fight and it’s exhausting and if we really want to get there we need a critical mass of people,” said Carling in an interview with CBC's Metro Morning.
Loveland, from the Faculty of Law’s Class of 1972, told Metro Morning that studying at U of T was a real “calling card” for him.
He said that he got into the military and saved money to go to U of T, but without the governmental funding sources that were available to him, he's not sure he would have been able to go to university. He said that he hopes his donation will give Indigenous students a leg up.
“I have always felt we should do something meaningful at U of T,” Loveland said. “And the Faculty of Law is making every effort to ensure that anybody who has the capacity and the interest and drive to go to law school will not be precluded for lack of money.”