This article discusses the atrocities committed in Residential Schools and may be triggering for some readers. Those seeking support may contact the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation or Four Directions. For immediate assistance, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Hotline can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
After their $1 million endowment to support the STEM: Indigenous Activities (STEM:InA) program, The Journal sat down with donors Norman Loveland, Sci ’65, and Gay Loveland. The endowment will be spread over four years.
STEM:InA supports the advancement of Indigenous access to education within science, technology, engineering, and math-based disciplines. The initiative is administered by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
The Lovelands have a history of philanthropy, donating to both Queen’s and the University of Toronto. One of their major initiatives as donors at Queen’s was in support of the Aboriginal Access to the Engineering Education program.
The pair are passionate about ensuring everyone who desires education has the opportunity to further their learning.
“We have a firm belief that every young person should have the opportunity to go as far and as fast as their drive and ambition will take them,” Norman Loveland said.
“We believe [education] improves quality of life for all.”
The funds mobilized through STEM:InA will help bring geographically distanced Indigenous students to Queen’s as well as orient them to the campus and Kingston. Potential recipients will have their families invited to campus to discuss what’s involved in an undergraduate degree at Queen’s.
“We want to reach out to prospective students and their families to show the way to Queen’s and show what they can do at Queen’s and let the students identify with how they might possibly fit into that environment,” Norman Loveland said.
He added that, in the face of the pandemic, Indigenous communities have suffered disproportionately. His desire to donate came from a want to decrease pandemic-related inequity.
“Part of my zeal for this initiative comes from the fact that one of the unfortunate results of the pandemic is that there is a huge windfall benefit to a huge number of people, but it’s very, very disparately spread,” he said.
“I personally feel strongly that I would like to make a dent in that inequality.”
Norman Loveland cited the uncovering of mass unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada as driving the pair to donate to STEM:InA.
“That didn’t necessarily motivate us to give, but it certainly accelerated our inclination to do so,” he said.
Gay Loveland echoed her husband’s sentiments. The discovery of the unmarked graves clarified the need for community action to address Indigenous issues.
“I think it’s also very timely in the sense that these issues about the residential schools have surfaced over the last year or so,” she said.
“There really needs to be efforts made to somehow—not make up for it, because you can’t possibly do that—but to provide Indigenous young people with opportunities that weren’t there before for them.”
“We need to bridge the divide that previously existed between their culture and their location,” she added.
The STEM:InA initiative is a result of collaboration between multiple faculties at Queen’s—including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences. This interdisciplinary collaboration increased the Lovelands’ desire to support the program.
“The collaborative nature of this sort of thing could be really helpful for Indigenous students,” Gay Loveland said.
“An organization that meets their broader needs, both intellectually, educationally, and through these supports of the Aboriginal representatives at the university, we felt that that was really quite an inventive and worthwhile package.”
Though heavily involved in funding the STEM:InA program, the Lovelands are not hands-on in administering the initiative. However, the pair are confident in the university’s ability to mobilize their funds as efficiently as possible.
“We have the utmost faith in how well Queen’s will use the money and make it count for the kinds of things we relate to,” Norman Loveland said.
“Investing our money in Queen’s not only makes us feel very good about giving it, but we’re so happy that they could do such a better job with that money than we could ever do.”
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