The gift of self-empowerment
The Dalhousie Difference
Marie Weeren - May 10, 2012
As a boy in Lac La Biche, Alberta in the 1940s, Hugh Maccagno had an experience he’s never forgotten.
An all-black baseball team from another Alberta community played in his town. Following the game, the manager and coach, Jeff D. Edwards, chatted with Mr. Maccagno’s father.
“...After he left, I remember my father telling me, ‘What a fine gentleman Mr. Edwards is.’ These words were spoken at a time when discrimination against black people was all too common across Canada and the US.”
Mr. Maccagno recalled this encounter when he was considering a name for the renewable scholarship he and his wife, Pat, were establishing for black Canadian and Bermudian students at Dalhousie. He learned more about Mr. Edwards — his coming to Canada from Oklahoma to escape discrimination, the community leadership that he and his wife, Martha, provided — and decided to name the scholarship in the family’s honour.
Some years before, Mr. Maccagno set the wheels in motion for a bursary for black Atlantic Canadians. He wanted to name it after Senator Donald Oliver (LLB’64, LLD’03) whom he knew well. Senator Oliver agreed, and matched the original donation.
When asked what motivated him to provide this support, Mr. Maccagno says in part: “I chose the black community because of their painful history and survival in North America... I chose them because of remarkable restraint and courage their leaders have shown in their long struggle for equal treatment...”
Nursing student Karina Scoggins, whose home is Wolfville, N.S., is a recipient of the Jeff D. and Martha Edwards Scholarship, valued at $2,000 a year for four years.
She says the Maccagnos’ gift goes beyond education. “By being here I’ve been able to become a stronger person, a smarter person, an independent person, more empowered. Not just as a person, but as a female, as being black.”
This article is part of the Dalhousie Difference series, exploring what the power of philantrophy means to the university and introducing and showcasing some of the 50 innovative projects in development. Learn more at boldambitions.dal.ca.