November 23, 2020
The current pandemic has created a number of unforeseen barriers for students, whether it’s access to the necessary technology to continue their education online or the loss of supplementary income.
The law school has had to find ways to support our students through these unprecedented times. One main source of support has been the Anne M. Stewart, Q.C. Student Emergency Fund in Law, which was set up by alumnae Anne Stewart (LLB ’75) ten years ago after seeing a gap in quickly accessible student funding to deal with urgent and unforeseen circumstances.
Bursary and scholarship opportunities are plentiful before September but, as Stewart observed, “Nothing was available throughout the year that dealt with student emergencies, ones that interfered with attending law school.”
She was inspired by her experience with the YWCA and their Single Mothers Program, an initiative she started supporting as an articling student. The gender imbalance, especially of single mothers, moved her to action.
“The vulnerability of a single mom has been known for a long time. It is a difficult road to travel. It was clear to me it was not an even playing field, including in law. It was a group that I thought I could help in some way.”
This fund is not limited to single moms or to women – it is available to all students.
Through the years, the fund has also gained support from other donors. The 1975 UBC Law Class contributed reunion funds and Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP, donated a generous gift to the fund in honour of Anne’s retirement as a partner of Blakes.
I think everyone needs to give back. I feel very lucky and grateful to have become a lawyer and have a wonderful career that allows me to help others as best as I can. That needs to be passed on.
Today, the Anne M. Stewart, Q.C. Student Emergency Fund in Law is supporting students who find themselves in unexpected circumstances that could jeopardize their ability to stay in school. What sets the fund apart is that it is administered confidentially and quickly (typically within one to two days of a students’ request). The fund provides the support necessary to ensure students do not have to miss classes or quit law school in order to address their emergency situation, which impacts their well-being and ability to continue in the program.
Beyond Allard Law, Stewart has also continued to dedicate her time to the community, helping support the legal community and also serving organizations like the Minerva Foundation for BC Women, Music on Main Society and Active Aging Society. “I think everyone needs to give back. I feel very lucky and grateful to have become a lawyer and have a wonderful career that allows me to help others as best as I can. That needs to be passed on. I feel strongly that if everyone did what they could, the world would be a better place. It is amazing what something you do for someone else can do for them and then be passed on to others.”
Stewart encourages fellow alumni who are interested in giving back to do so to the Emergency Fund.
“I know the gift is making a real impact for someone. There is a special satisfaction in that.”