In 2019, the Walker Wood Foundation generously donated $32,000 to establish Walker Wood Foundation Awards to help Lakehead University students.
"Previous generations could leave high school thinking, 'I'm going to set the world on fire,' but things are different now," Susan Wood says.
The Foundation was established by Susan and her husband Neil Wood in 2006 and is run by them along with their daughter, Halifax physician Dr. Kate Wood.
It was the life of another physician – Neil's father Dr. James Wood – that inspired Neil and Susan to support postsecondary education. Dr. Wood was able to become a physician after receiving a prestigious Carnegie Scholarship to attend medical school. When he graduated, Dr. Wood repaid this kindness by spending his career as a family doctor in an economically depressed region of Yorkshire, England.
The couple's dedication to postsecondary education was also influenced by their experience as immigrants. Both of them are originally from the United Kingdom and both of them chose to take a risk and start new lives overseas.
In a country like Canada, with so many newcomers, we believe education is paramount
That's why the Walker Wood Foundation has been supporting students with high academic standing and leadership qualities who might otherwise find it difficult to afford postsecondary education. To reach the greatest number of people, the Foundation gives to colleges and universities across Canada.
"We also have a small allocation of our funds that go to general donations including health, community programs, theatre and music, and disaster relief," Susan says.
In fact, in 2020, Lakehead was fortunate to receive a $5,000 donation to the Lakehead University COVID-19 Student Relief Fund from the Walker Wood Foundation to assist students who are struggling during the pandemic.
During this same academic year, Lakehead students Connor McKinnon and Emily Kaun were thrilled to receive Walker Wood Foundation Awards. Emily is a second-year student from Fort Frances, a Northwestern Ontario town of about 8,000 far from any university or college, making a postsecondary education an expensive proposition.
"Thank you for opening so many doors for me," Emily says. "Your generous bursary has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a registered nurse. I am honoured that you chose me, but most importantly, I wanted to let your organization know that by helping me, I am going to be able to help others."
Connor is also a second-year nursing student. He grew up in Thunder Bay, however he spent much of his childhood travelling to and from Toronto for medical treatments after being diagnosed at the age of six with a rare form of cancer.
"I was not supposed to survive," Connor says, "but my parents refused to take me home unless they had tried everything possible." He adds, "I have seen how nurses and doctors can change your life and it has been my dream since to be a nurse, then hopefully a doctor, so that I can give back to someone else's family."
Emily and Connor's commitment to supporting the vulnerable is one that Susan Wood applauds. "I always say work hard, do your best, and be kind and thoughtful to your fellow human beings."
If you would like to support a student, please contact External Relations Philanthropy Director Kathryn Davidson at 807-343-8010 ext. 8476 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.