Office of Advancement
Office of Advancement

It was a conversation that challenged Chancellor Jim Leech (MBA’73), and made him wonder what he could personally do to help.

Approximately a year and a half ago, then-Governor General David Johnston convened a first-ever gathering of all Canadian university chancellors. One of the topics of conversation at that meeting: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the responsibilities of universities and of those in leadership positions to help.

That call to action built on what Chancellor Leech had been hearing and seeing for himself since he started his three-terms as chancellor in 2014. He had participated in a breakfast at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, attended some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force sessions, took part in a blanket exercise with the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University, and got to know then-Director of Four Directions Janice Hill.

“All of those things came together and I started thinking about what I could do to mark the end of my first term,” says Chancellor Leech. “We know that for all students unplanned events happen, such as family issues or community issues, which may cause a student to drop out. If we’ve got someone who’s come here and worked two or three years, it’s a shame that they might have to drop out for financial reasons.”

So, working with Advancement and Four Directions, the chancellor set out to establish a bursary for Indigenous students. The $15,000 need-based bursary is “awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need to Aboriginal students in any year of any faculty or school at Queen’s University.” Recipients may be full- or part-time students.

“I remember when I was a student having friends who were towards the end of the year starting to get short on cash and a few hundred dollars might have made the difference between staying in school and dropping out,” says Chancellor Leech. “The objective of this bursary will be to attract more students and give more students opportunities so that we have more graduates who can contribute to society in their communities, acting as role models in our Canadian society and economy.”

The creation of this bursary fund aligns with the recommendations of Queen’s University’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Report. It will assist Indigenous students in fully participating in the academic and extra-curricular life of the university and will promote inclusion, retention, and success.

“I am very pleased and honored that the chancellor chose this for his contribution,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Director of Indigenous Initiatives. “It is a pretty significant signal from the chancellor, and it is consistent with his efforts, dating back to the beginning of his term, to reach out to the Indigenous community. It is also very much filling a need – we have a lot of entrance scholarships but not a lot for those who are more senior students.”

Applications are to be made via SOLUS to the Office of the University Registrar, Student Awards by Oct. 31, 2017. Please visit for information on Student Awards at Queen’s.