Mohawk grad’s gift creates award for Indigenous law students at Queen’s

David Sharpe, Law’95, has been helping Queen’s Law reach out to Indigenous JD prospects for the past four years as a volunteer ambassador. Now he has bolstered that support with a generous $50,000 gift, creating The David Sharpe Indigenous Law Student Award for upper-year studies.

Sharpe, CEO of Toronto’s privately held lender Bridging Finance Inc. and Chair Emeritus of the Board of Governors for First Nations University of Canada, says, “It is a pleasure and an honour to be able to share in Queen’s commitment to making higher education more accessible to Indigenous students.”

The award, valued at $10,000 for each of the next five years, will be given on the basis of students’ contributions to the law school or broader university community to enhance understanding and respect for Indigenous knowledge, culture, governance and perspectives on law, as well as good academic standing and general proficiency in JD studies. Two students may share the award after completion of first or second year of the JD program.

Following University Senate approval, the first Sharpe Award recipient(s) will be selected in the summer of 2017.

“This award will be of tremendous assistance to our Indigenous students in Law,” says Heather Cole, Law’96 (Artsci’91, MPA’00), Assistant Dean of Students. “Queen’s Law has made a strong commitment to recruiting more Indigenous students and creating a law school that supports diversity and cultural awareness and understanding. We are grateful to alumni like David Sharpe who support these efforts.”

In a timely law course he developed especially for his alma mater and introduced last winter, Sharpe also began teaching students how to negotiate in a First Nations context. (See the David Sharpe profile “Indigenous law involves all law” in 2017’s Queen’s Law Reports.)

“Queen’s is developing solid Indigenous leaders,” says Sharpe, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in Ontario. “I am committed to assisting with this endeavour and honouring the Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.”

By Lisa Graham

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