Impact of Giving

Two $100,000 endowments will fund Indigenous student research at UNB and STU

Author: Development and Donor Relations

Posted on Jun 26, 2023

Category: News and Events

Former lieutenant governor Graydon Nicholas called it a great example of “reconcili-action.”

At an event in Fredericton on June 21, attended by Nicholas, it was announced that entrepreneur and conservationist J.W. (Bud) Bird had established two $100,000 endowments to fund annual Indigenous student research projects at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and St. Thomas University (STU).

The Atlantic Salmon Federation and Miramichi Salmon Association will administer the endowments. Beginning this year, they will provide a $5,000 Wild Salmon Grant to a student at UNB and a student at STU.

Bird says he hopes the endowments will help advance conservation and reconciliation efforts.

“It is within the context of wild Atlantic salmon preservation that these grants are being offered at UNB and STU,” said Bird. “I hope that they will encourage Indigenous contributions of research and knowledge towards the mission for conservation and enhance the process of reconciliation within the wild salmon community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members alike.”

At UNB, the grant will be awarded to an Indigenous undergraduate student entering their second, third or fourth year of study in the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management or the Faculty of Science.

STU will award it to an Indigenous undergraduate student in their second, third or fourth year of study in the Bachelor of Arts.

The grants will fund research projects or experiential learning opportunities and will include the value of traditional Indigenous knowledge related to the preservation of rivers and natural spaces. The student will share the results and learnings from their work through the salmon organizations for conservation and public advocacy.

Bird has been a leading entrepreneur in the province for 60 years, owning and operating the construction company Bird Stairs Ltd. and the private investment business, Bird Holdings Ltd. He has also been an elected representative at all three levels of government. He has been the mayor of Fredericton, a provincial cabinet minister and a member of parliament.

A sport fisherman and conservationist, Bird is Chairman Emeritus of the Miramichi Salmon Association. He has also been a director of the Atlantic Salmon Federation of Canada and the Atlantic Salmon Federation of the United States.

“The wild Atlantic salmon has been in a state of serious decline over many decades and is now reaching such critically low levels in most wild rivers that its very existence seems soon to become unsustainable,” said Bird.

“I truly believe that only through such a united sense of working together in partnership among all concerned can the wild Atlantic salmon resource be fully recovered and permanently sustained.”

Michelle Gray, the acting dean of forestry & environmental management and director of the Canadian Rivers Institute, says Bird’s endowments will foster collaborative efforts to reverse the decline of the salmon population.

“Bud has been a passionate advocate for the conservation of the land and waterways in this region for many years and has also been a generous supporter of the Canadian Rivers Institute hosted at UNB,” said Gray. “This gift is yet another demonstration of how Bud brings people together for the greater good of everyone.”

Dr. Kim Fenwick, the acting president and vice-chancellor at STU, says Bird’s endowments will enrich the education of Indigenous students.

“His gift to STU will create new opportunities for our Indigenous students to complement their class learning with experiential learning and public engagement,” she said. “Bud Bird has been a long-time supporter of STU, and we are pleased to work with him to benefit students.”

Photo, from left to right: Thomas Mann, managing director, Gitpo Spirit Lodge; Michelle Gray, acting dean of forestry and environmental management at UNB; entrepreneur and conservationist J.W. (Bud) Bird; lieutenant governor Graydon Nicholas; Kim Fenwick, acting president and vice-chancellor at STU; Abby Pond, the executive director of development at the Atlantic Salmon Federation; Robyn MacCallum, president of the Miramichi Salmon Association.