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Honouring one life, impacting many

Margery Baldwin Memorial gift supports Indigenous students and initiatives at Western

by Keri Ferguson | August 11, 2015

Honouring one life, impacting many
A gift from Peter Baldwin, BA’62, in memory of his late wife, Margery, has made an impact on the lives of many First Nations youth and Western students.

Imagine yourself here.

So beckons the brochure for Western’s Mini-University Summer Program for Indigenous youth, a concept that resonated deeply with Peter Baldwin, BA’62, when looking for a meaningful way to honour his late wife, Margery, BA’63.

“I was very impressed by the idea,” he says of the program offered through Indigenous Services at Western’s Student Development Centre, and one he subsequently chose to support through the Margery Baldwin Outreach and Recruitment Fund.

Participants aged 12 to 18 attend the University for one week, staying in residence and taking part in fun crossfaculty learning activities that integrate and celebrate their culture.

“These kids come to campus, see what it’s all about and discover that university is an option for them.”

Older teens enhance their leadership skills and explore educational opportunities in all areas of study. They also learn about the university application process.

“I wish they had something like that when I was their age,” Baldwin continues with a chuckle. “I would have been much better prepared for university.”

Relieving trepidation surrounding postsecondary education is an integral part of her team’s mission, says Candace Brunette, manager of Indigenous Services.

“There’s this inherent belief among many young Aboriginals that you have to give up who you are to go to university,” she explains. “Our outreach programs help show that they can be themselves here and get their degree.”

Anthony Isaac, BHSc’09, MSc’11, looks back on his mini-university experience as a crucial first step on a journey that has brought him full circle to his current role: coordinator of Aboriginal Services at Okanagan College, in Kelowna, B.C. He recalls the “warm, welcoming atmosphere” of the camp, and how that later influenced him when it came time to make his future plans.

“I chose Western because I knew I would be welcomed and supported there,” says Isaac, who hails from Walpole Island First Nation in southwestern Ontario. He ended up returning to mini-university too – but this time as a counsellor while earning his undergraduate degree.

Research for his master’s degree explored visions of success held by First Nations youth during their transition to postsecondary education. That’s providing a solid foundation for inspiring and guiding the Aboriginal students he works with today.

“From participating in the camp as a youth, to leading at the camp later as a Western student, mini-university was a transformative experience in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.”

In addition to supporting the miniuniversity, Baldwin also established the Margery Baldwin Memorial Entrance Bursaries for first-year students applying to Western through the Centre’s Access Transition Opportunity program.

First Nations Studies student Donna Wemigwans is extremely thankful. “The bursary motivated me, and encouraged me to go on, instead of giving up due to a lack of funding. I’m so appreciative that I was able to receive financial help when I needed it most.”

She hopes to apply the knowledge gained from her studies at Western to help drive positive change in her community.

Baldwin is pleased to hear his gift is helping others; something his wife did throughout her life. “Margery would have liked supporting students and giving them the opportunity to attend university.”

Margery, who worked at Western’s registrar’s office for 15 years, was an avid reader, so her family also felt it fitting to direct some of the gift to Western Libraries, with funds earmarked to preserve and strengthen its First Nations scholarly materials collection.

With a lot of thought and careful consideration, a gift to celebrate one life, has in turn touched the lives of many.

“Mr. Baldwin and his entire family are beautiful, kind-hearted people,” observes Brunette. “We shared tears the last time they visited campus to see the impact of their gift. The memory of Margery lives on here for sure.”

For more information about supporting Indigenous Services, Student Development Centre, please contact Dana James, associate vice-president, Principal Gifts (519.661.2111, ext. 85585 or

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of Impact Western
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