The Canadian Safe School Network and Dr. Allan Peterkin are proud to announce the launch of the Robert Pierre Tomas Scholarship Fund.
This scholarship will be granted to a gay or lesbian new Canadian student pursuing post-secondary education or training. This student has will have demonstrated remarkable resilience and leadership in the face of personal and social challenges. They are proud of who they are and are building a life of commitment, connection and meaning for themselves in their new country.
The scholarship is named in honour of the late Robert Pierre Tomas, a truly remarkable and inspiring individual. Born June 8, 1965 in Częstochowa, Poland, he grew up under the communist regime of the time and struggled to be able to live, love and express himself freely.
He was a brilliant, funny, creative, multilingual man of many talents. In Poland, he studied law and worked in broadcasting. But he soon realized that he needed to live openly as a gay man, and in 1986, he moved to Canada.
Canada was a place where Robert could speak his mind and live his life the way he chose, but life here brought different challenges from the ones he faced in Poland. Despite achieving fluency in English in a very short time, he still encountered the same types of challenges that other immigrants to Canada might face, including being told that he “had an accent” or “lacked ‘Canadian experience’”.
Robert worked very hard to overcome the obstacles that came before him. He eventually went on to enjoy a career in the arts and in philanthropy; first in a radio station, and then as a highly respected fundraiser for the arts and social justice causes close to his heart. He wrote a novel which received Canada Council funding, reviewed recordings and performances of classical music for a national magazine, and even became a judge at The Juno Awards. He was also an activist and champion of LGBT causes who advocated for people living with HIV/AIDS from the start of the epidemic. Always curious, he never gave up his love of learning and exploring new interests. He found a way to overcome adversity and came to thrive in his new country.
Tragically, Robert drowned in Turks and Caicos on April 1, 2018. His passing has left a void in many lives. His story is one of generosity, caring, leadership and passionate devotion. He inspired many to overcome obstacles and to live life to the fullest on whatever path they pursued.
To commemorate Robert’s remarkable journey, we ask for your donation to help make a difference in the life of someone who is making a new start in Canada, a young person who demonstrates the kind of resilience, authenticity and passion for living and studying that Robert did. Your gift will help students to live a full, authentic life as they pursue post-secondary education or training.
With deepest gratitude,
Canadian Safe School Network and Dr. Allan Peterkin
Scholarship eligibility requirements, a nomination form and other details will be shared soon on the CSSN website. All donors giving $20 or more will receive an official donation receipt for tax purposes.
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