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University Advancement | April 2018  


Bennett Family Foundation sets PACE for promising students

Gillian Kyle, 1st year, Midwifery

Gillian Kyle, 1st year, Midwifery


A generous gift from the Bennett Family Foundation is changing lives.

The donation was the lead gift to the President’s Awards to Champion Excellence (PACE) — an initiative launched by President Mohamed Lachemi at his installation, and aimed at providing greater access to post-secondary education for several underrepresented groups. The Bennett family gift is being equally divided to support awards for Indigenous students and first-generation students.

The gift was initiated by real estate developer turned publishing magnate, Avie Bennett, before his death in June of 2017. His legacy lives on as a champion of education, Canadian art and culture.

Indspire, an Indigenous-led charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis students across Canada, matched the Bennett Family Foundation’s support for Indigenous students, and has partnered with Ryerson University to administer the awards.

At the same time, an anonymous donor has generously offered to match new gifts to PACE for Indigenous students in Ryerson’s Faculty of Community Services. She has agreed to match gifts to a total of $200,000.

Gillian Kyle, a Midwifery student, is one of the inaugural Bennett scholars. The support has helped her with living expenses and will soon help her in the purchase of a new vehicle.

“For clinical placements in second, third and fourth year, I will be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Kyle explains. “I am responsible for my own transportation, which requires a valid driver’s licence, a vehicle, insurance and gas money.”

Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River and from the Turtle Clan, Kyle emphasizes that she has been taught by her aunties and elders that the responsibility of a life giver and life protector is sacred. “Upon completion of this program, I plan to support Indigenous people all over Turtle Island,” she says, “especially in communities where access to a midwife and healthcare in general is limited or non-existent.”

“Words cannot express the relief that this bursary has provided me with,” adds Kyle. “It has given me the extra boost of confidence and security I need to tackle the four year journey ahead.”

To learn more about PACE, please visit: