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Date: April 30, 2008

BMO Financial Group Provides Lead Donation For UVic's First Peoples House

UVic\'s First Peoples HouseCredit: Alfred Waugh, Architect The University of Victoria’s plan to create a centre of cultural and academic support for Aboriginal students is one step closer to reality thanks to a gift of $550,000 from BMO Financial Group.

The donation will support the construction of UVic’s First Peoples House, a 12,500 square foot educational facility to be built at the centre of the UVic campus. An imposing two-story foyer at the main entrance to First Peoples House will be named the BMO Financial Group Entrance Hall in recognition of this first major gift to the project.

Designed in a Salish long house style by Aboriginal architect Alfred Waugh of Vancouver, the First Peoples House will be a centre of cultural and academic support programs that will help more Aboriginal students access and complete an advanced education.

“First Peoples House is the physical manifestation of the university’s commitment to making UVic more accessible to Aboriginal students,” says UVic President David Turpin. “BMO Financial Group has shown outstanding leadership with this donation. This is the first gift for this exceptional project, and it will drive the success of our fundraising efforts to complete First Peoples House.”

“BMO’s gift to the University of Victoria’s First Peoples House is indicative of the all-round and long-term support that the bank has provided to Aboriginal peoples across Canada through innovative financial products and branch banking in Aboriginal communities,” says Richard Rudderham, senior vice president, BC & Yukon Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “We are especially pleased, as a strong advocate of life long learning and higher education, to be the lead donor of this ground-breaking cultural and academic Aboriginal centre in Victoria.”

The number of Aboriginal students at UVic has increased over 700 per cent since 1999. Today, Canada’s Aboriginal communities are growing at twice the national average, and there is a significant increase in the number of Aboriginal 18 to 24 year olds. Establishing a supportive learning environment where Aboriginal students make a successful transition from high school to university is one of UVic’s top strategic priorities.

“This generous gift from BMO is an investment in the future of Canada’s First Nations communities and in a promising future for Aboriginal students” says Fran Hunt Jinnouchi, UVic’s director of Indigenous affairs. “Generations of Aboriginal students will find a home-away-from-home here, and they will find the support they need to succeed at university.”

UVic’s goal is to foster a learning environment that is welcoming and accessible to all First Nations students. First Peoples House will help position the university as a North American leader in Aboriginal initiatives and programs.
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Media contacts:
Fran Hunt Jinnouchi (Director of Indigenous Affairs) 250-721-6326 or franhj@uvic.ca
Chris Thackray (Development Communications) at 250-721-6247 or thackray@uvic.ca
Laurie Grant (BMO Financial Group) 604-665-7596 or laurie.grant@bmo.com

Photos page:
BMO Financial Group Provides Lead Donation For UVic's First Peoples House Images

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(image: fern)