Graydon and Beth Nicholas establish Hatchette Nicholas Bursary Endowment at StFX to aid Indigenous Canadian students
Helping Indigenous Canadian students on their educational journey is the purpose of a new bursary generously established at St. Francis Xavier University by Graydon ’68, HON ’94 and Beth ’71 Nicholas.
The Fredericton, NB couple, both StFX alumni, have donated $210,000 to establish the Hatchette Nicholas Bursary Endowment at StFX to provide emergency funding for Indigenous Canadian students in need of immediate financial assistance. The bursary honours the memory of the late Richard (Rick) Hatchette ’75, brother of Beth Nicholas.
The donation is matched by the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Foundation, doubling the endowment fund to $420,000.
“My brother was a strong advocate for Indigenous rights. Rick was an adjudicator with the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat. I think he would certainly approve of this bursary fund,” says Beth Nicholas, a retired lawyer. She says that Rick, also a lawyer and legal advisor for the St. John River Valley Tribal Council, who would have celebrated his 45th reunion from StFX this year, passed away from cancer in 2016. Mrs. Nicholas was one of his caregivers.
“We received an inheritance from Rick and we wanted to ensure that his legacy lives on at StFX,” she says. He treasured his years at X and his lifetime friends from the class of ’75. Rick’s BSc from StFX provided him with a solid foundation to pursue a Masters in Biology at UNB and then an LLB from UNB Law School, where he excelled and found his life’s passion in the law.
“It’s a good way to remember Rick, and also promote higher education,” something she says that he appreciated and valued.
HELP IN MOMENT OF NEED
Mr. Nicholas, former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, retired lawyer and judge, who currently holds the Endowed Chair in Native Studies at St. Thomas University, says they wanted to help Indigenous students in their moment of need.
He says being Indigenous himself, he knows what it’s like to go to university as an Indigenous student. Finances may be limited, and the students may be the first in their family to attend university. Students may find themselves in need of resources throughout the year to continue their academic journey. Additionally, some students are single mothers who have extra costs associated with childcare and travel.
“This bursary will help them,” he says. “We’re hoping it will make university life a little easier for them.”
“This is a way to assist Indigenous students who are in need during the academic year so they can stay in school,” Mrs. Nicholas says.
Both say their hope is that these students will eventually go on to help their communities. “When they graduate, I hope they’ll think someone reached out to me as a student, so maybe I can do that for someone else,” Mr. Nicholas says.
The couple, who met at StFX, say they are happy to be able to establish this bursary for their alma mater.
They have fond memories of their time at StFX. Many family members, including Mr. Nicholas’s brothers and nieces, as well as several Hatchette cousins from Nova Scotia, attended the university. When he was Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, they hosted alumni gatherings on the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier.
“StFX was special for us. We have tried to live out the university motto, Quaecumque Sunt Vera (whatsoever things are true),” says Mrs. Nicholas.
They’ve long been involved in outreach. Mrs. Nicholas is a member and a Past President of the Catholic Women’s League and is active in outreach ministry at St. Mary Magdalene Parish. Mr. Nicholas is a member of the Knights of Columbus having served as a Supreme Director and Supreme Warden. They both served as National Presidents of Christian Life Community Canada, which is based on Ignatian Spirituality, the spirituality of St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits. They have always tried to help others, especially the most vulnerable of society. Through the years they have been strong supporters of StFX and the Coady International Institute.
“It comes naturally to want to help those in need, if we can lend a hand. That’s what we believe and practise: love God and love your neighbour and everyone is our neighbour,” Mrs. Nicholas says.
Mr. Nicholas, who grew up as one of 10 children, says his parents, Andrew Nicholas, Senior and Pauline Nicholas, whose own educational journey ended early, always stressed the importance of education to their children, and the importance of helping yourself and helping others. The Hatchette Nicholas Bursary is also in their memory and in memory of Beth and Rick’s parents, Dick and Rose Hatchette, who instilled in them the value of life-long learning.
Mrs. Nicholas grew up in Saint John, NB in an environment of Catholic social action and social justice and says she developed her social conscience even more at StFX.
Says Mr. Nicholas on the bursary: “We’re grateful we had the opportunity to establish this bursary. Hopefully it serves a good purpose. We are even more grateful for the generosity of the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Foundation in matching our donation. Jeannine Deveau is truly an outstanding StFX alumna and a great Canadian who exemplifies the Xaverian spirit.”