Buddhist society’s generous gift to support future students

York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies will establish a special bursary award for students in financial need thanks to a unique donation from the Han Shan Sih Buddhist Society of North York. The gift, a house which served as the society’s temple for 15 years, has been sold to fund an endowment to support and encourage students who have particular concerns about the environment.

Above: From left to right, Mae Liu, Shirley Tang, Paul Marcus, Shirley Chen, Andy Burnside, David Morley, Peter Chang, Rev. Chan Ting, Simon Wong, Beth Franklin, Jennifer Clark and Shu-Min Lai.

“The nature of the relationship between the Han Shan Sih Buddhist Society and the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York is an important aspect of this gift,” said David Morley, dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies. “The society expressed its sense of a strong connection between its perspectives on the environment and the faculty’s unique holistic, interdisciplinary approach to environmental education.”

The society’s gift of the home, valued at more than $340,000, was made to the faculty through the York University Foundation, and will be enhanced by matching funds from the Ontario Student Opportunities Trust Fund. Morley said the society’s decision to make the gift came through the direct encouragement of the late Stella Wah, a major sponsor of the Han Shan Sih temple.

“The Han Shan Sih Buddhist Society’s gift to York University says so much about York’s strong links with its community,” said Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. “Giving away one’s home is a sacred trust, the benefits of which many grateful York University students will treasure for years to come.”

The proceeds from the sale of the house and matching funds from the provincial government will be used to establish an endowment of over $615,000 to support the Han Shan Sih Buddhist Society Bursaries for Environmental Studies. Intended primarily for undergraduate students, the awards also include one graduate bursary awarded to “a student who exemplifies in his or her study a religious, ethical or spiritual commitment to the environment.”

“We hope to provide financial aid to students wanting higher education and promote studies in the environmental field, both physical and spiritual,” said Rev. Chan Ting, the congregation’s temple master. “We want also to show our gratitude to the people of the North York community where our temple was located.”

At an event to mark the signing of the agreement, representatives of the faculty presented Rev. Chan Ting and members of her congregation with a handmade copy of a yellow Ching dynasty cup, “symbolizing the strength, grace and beauty of the earth to which both our communities are committed, as well as the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship with each other.”