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$1M in bursaries announced for Métis, First Nations and Inuit students at U of T law school

Norman and Gay Loveland, University of Toronto alumni donated $1 Million to support bursaries for Indigenous students attending U of T Faculty of Law.

Norman and Gay Loveland, U of T alumni donate $1 million for student bursaries

Norman and Gay Loveland and Amanda Carling at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law (Nick Wong)

Indigenous students studying law at the University of Toronto will have access to more financial support in the form of bursaries, thanks to a $1-million donation from philanthropists Norman and Gay Loveland.

"I have always felt it was important to support education opportunities of people of all walks of life and stripes," said Norman Loveland.

He's a former tax lawyer, partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and an alumnus of the U of T faculty of law. 

The couple are "particularly concerned about the lack of representation, the under-representation ... of the Indigenous community at higher education."

Métis lawyer Amanda Carling, the faculty's manager of Indigenous initiatives, said she has struggled with that under-representation. 

As a working lawyer she faced challenging and uncomfortable moments "that make you wish you had more Indigenous folks at your side and particularly in the very senior positions of power," she said.

Both Carling and the elder Loveland were on Metro Morning Thursday — Louis Riel Day —  to discuss the donation.  Some 132 years earlier, on November 16, 1885, the Métis leader was hanged by the North West Mounted Police in Regina for leading his rebellion. 

Committed to reconciliation

Carling said that while the federal government is "ostensibly" committed to Indigenous issues and reconciliation, its important for all Canadians to play a role. 

"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," Carling said. 

In a news release she said "we are grateful to the Loveland's for not only their generous financial contribution but also for their genuine interest in, and dedication to, moving this country forward on the path to reconciliation." 

Loveland said that supporting Indigenous people in pursuing fields in education, engineering, and law is important "so that they will be at the forefront of tackling issues and working with their leaders in their communities — I think this is a very important part of the reconciliation process," he said in a news release. 

When it comes to financial support, Carling said there is a misconception that" that people get this free ride."

"Inuit people and status Indians don't all get funding through the federal government via their band for post secondary and it's not available to Inuit and non-status Indians," she said.   

Carling believes this bursary "is going to enable us to allow more indigenous students to access a world class legal education at the University of Toronto."