For over 50 years the North Shore and its surrounding communities have provided extraordinary support to Capilano University.

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Sunshine Coast donor puts students’ needs first

Mary Lou Owen, who created two funds for students living on the Sunshine Coast: the Mary Lou Owen Educational Fund and the Becky Wayte Educational Fund.

There are many ways to say thank you. For one Sechelt resident, her decision to honour an individual will leave a legacy for students on the Sunshine Coast.

Following a 32-year teaching career with the Delta School District, Mary Lou Owen wasn’t ready to sit idly by.

Mary Lou relocated part-time to the Sunshine Coast 21 years ago. As a retirement project, she set an ambitious goal to create a website to reconnect her former classmates from kindergarten to grade 9 at Gorsebrook Junior High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

She started taking computer courses through the Adult Basic Education program at the kálax-ay Sunshine Coast Campus of Capilano University.

Learning to create a website did not come easily to Mary Lou, but with her fierce tenacity and the support of dedicated instructor Becky Wayte, she created the Gorsebrook School website.

“Mary Lou works harder than anyone I have ever met,” said Becky. “She is the most persistent and dedicated student. I've never seen anybody so committed to learning. I imagine she was an absolutely amazing teacher, especially for students who didn't learn in a typical way or those who needed extra support.”

Mary Lou has been ultra-careful during the pandemic. For a long time, Becky was the only person in her bubble. Their weekly visits were rooted in teaching and learning, but the social connection was as important and a friendship quickly developed.

When the COVID-19 pandemic ended in-person classes, the shift to online learning was a challenge. Becky realized Mary Lou needed extra help with her website and offered to meet her weekly for one-on-one tutorials for close to two years.

Mary Lou mentioned she had some shares she wanted to donate to an organization where it could have a lasting impact. Becky suggested donating to Capilano University to be used to help students.

By connecting with CapU’s Philanthropy and Alumni Relations team, Mary Lou learned she could donate appreciated securities investment funds – a straightforward and tax-efficient option. Donors receive a tax credit for their financial gift that can be used to offset other taxable income. Also, when donors give securities to a charity, such as the Capilano University Foundation, the capital gains are non-taxable income as well.

“This option provided a huge incentive,” said Mary Lou. “I would lose a considerable amount in capital gains tax if I gave a cash donation. For me, a securities donation is the only way to go.”

Mary Lou offered a vision for her financial gift with specific criteria. “I don’t want the student funding to be a scholarship. I don't want it to go to students who have straight A's. Scholarships are already available to those students,” said Mary Lou. “I want it to go to foster children or to students who face barriers to continuing their education, or to students who would not qualify for financial assistance.”

As a teacher, Mary Lou had a heart for connecting with students who faced struggles at home, those who had trouble fitting in and students who had learning challenges. She taught a number of students in foster care and devoted attention to supporting their success. Mary Lou wanted to provide financial gifts to students like those she had supported as a teacher.

Her donation proved to be a dual gift. The $40,000 donation to Capilano University will create two funds for students living on the Sunshine Coast: the Mary Lou Owen Educational Fund and the Becky Wayte Educational Fund.

Becky was astounded and delighted to have a fund established in her name in recognition of her instruction and her above-and-beyond support to Mary Lou. “I'm so honoured by this,” said Becky. “It is like she gave me $20,000 to give to the university.”

Mary Lou's act of gratitude offers a lasting tribute to her friend and leaves a legacy of support for students.

“I wanted to do something for Capilano University and for Becky. She went to high school on the Sunshine Coast and has worked at CapU for over 30 years. This was my way of saying thank you to her and the university,” said Mary Lou.

To find out more about how to give through securities, visit our Donating Securities to CapU page. 

Our donor stories


Christian, a longtime teacher and professor, taught at CapU for 10 years. Teaching in a number of places, such as the Arctic and overseas, Christian highlights his time at CapU.

Alex, also a longtime teacher, taught biology and chemistry in England, and math and science in Alberta; he was a reading specialist here in B.C.

In 2016, Christian established the Christian Steckler Academic Excellence Fund, an endowment fund which supports students at CapU in their English for Academic Purposes studies. Thanks to Christian’s endowment, one immigrant student per year will be awarded a scholarship in their program.

Christian and Alex also recently donated “Opening to the Spirits”, a sculpture by artist Abraham Anghik Ruben, which depicts an angakkuq – a shaman in Inuit culture – opening himself to a seal tuurngaq (spirit guide) that will assist him in spiritual quests. The sculpture is proudly on display at the new CapU Lonsdale campus.

When asked what inspires them in giving back to CapU, Christian and Alex said, “the spirit at Capilano U of respect, collegiality, pride in excellence, mutual support, and community involvement envelopes everyone here. We want to encourage it, support it, and be part of it. It’s the total package.”

As proud supporters of CapU, Alex says, “we are blessed with what we have through hard work, and I would like to be able to share our gifts with others, so that they may be enjoyed by many.” Christian adds, “The motto of my high school was De nihil, nihil fit - from nothing, nothing comes.

This has grounded me in a firm belief in self-reliance. I am inclined, therefore, to encourage effort and growth in donations that I make, donations to rehab rather than to free meals, to a scholarship rather than a bursary, and in the case of the sculpture, encouragement to seek alignment with our spiritual nature rather than with ego-driven accomplishment.”

As true champions of giving, we are incredibly grateful to have generous donors such as Christian and Alex as members of the Capilano University community!


Most people think of eggs as a breakfast food, but to Viktoriya Kim an egg is a blank canvas begging to be adorned. Her passion is to transform ostrich, goose and duck eggs into everything from gilded carriages to ornate teapots using paper prints, acrylic paints, Swarovski stones, beads and different kinds of mediums and bonds.

“What I love about making egg art is that whenever you have an idea, or are inspired, you are breathing life into these eggs with those ideas, almost like a rebirth!” says the graduate of CapU’s program, who studied egg art under Kim Kyung Ah, the president of the Korean Egg Art Guild.

Kim’s unique egg art will be on display at Capilano University on Wednesday, October 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Birch Building atrium. The Egg with a Story exhibition is a fundraiser for the recently established Rick Berwick Community Spirit Award, which supports students in CapU’s (EAP) program who demonstrate community engagement and involvement.

The egg artist first met Dr. Rick Berwick, a highly regarded sociolinguist and instructor at Capilano University, as a student in the University’s EAP program. A strong proponent of community engagement in intercultural learning, Berwick was Kim’s instructor for a course where students practise their English skills while volunteering in the community.

Kim loved the experience so much that she became a regular volunteer in the morning breakfast program at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, cooking and providing homeless people with fresh, homemade food.

“It was Rick who introduced me to what volunteerism means,” says Kim. “He was an inspiring volunteer and a man with a big, kind selfless heart, who helped many people.”

When Berwick passed away on June 3, 2019 his family established an award for EAP students in his name. Kim immediately wanted to contribute through sharing her art. Donations received at the exhibition will go directly to the award.

“I think, through volunteering, all the bright and positive aspects of anyone's personality can be revealed,” says Kim. “Volunteering gives people the feeling of diversified growth, and the sense that they are doing something significant for society and those in need.”

“For me, the establishment of the Richard Berwick Community Spirit Award is an embodiment of Rick's wish to make this world if not perfect, then at least a little bit better.”


A little extra sunshine visited the kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus of CapU on Thursday, January 19, when the Hopkins Branch of the Sunshine Coast Healthcare Auxiliary presented a generous surprise gift to CapU's Health Care Assistant (HCA) students. Each of the 20 students at the Sechelt campus received $100 toward their studies.

"What an amazing group of people!" said one recipient. "I feel like they are invested in and supportive of us as HCA students." Another said, "We have had a very challenging week and this unexpected gift makes it end on a high note."

Thank you to the Hopkins Branch for their generous support of CapU's HCA students!


Capilano University and Investors Group both have a long history of attracting ambitious people who care about their communities. So it felt like a natural fit when Tod Woodward, Regional Director of Investors Group - Greater Vancouver North approached the CapU Foundation to find out how they could help support business students to reach their full potential.

"We know how important financial support can be to post-secondary students," said Woodward about the new Investors Group Bursary. "We wanted to provide Cap students with a financial boost to allow them to complete their education and further their development into industry-ready professionals."

The Investors Group Bursary will be available beginning in the 2016/17 academic year for students pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

The CapU Foundation thanks Investors Group for choosing Capilano University students as one of its newest investments in the community, supporting some of the best and brightest BC has to offer through the new bursary.

Thanks to a generous gift from the Canadian Federation of University Women – West Vancouver (CFUW-WV) directed to CapU's department of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the department was able to present CapU bookstore gift certificates to two outstanding ECCE students, Katelyn McLellan and Natalie McTavish. 

McLellan and McTavish have excelled in their studies while co-chairing the ECCE Club on campus for two years, planning a number of campus-wide events that have raised awareness of early childhood education as a profession committed to improving the lives of children and families.

The CFUW-West Vancouver's gift came from individual donations from members as well as club fundraising efforts that include participation in Thrifty Foods' Smile Card Program, which donates 5 per cent of purchases by a nonprofit to a charity they designate.

"CFUW-West Vancouver is very pleased to offer this support to these future ECCE teachers and leaders," said Eleanor Scarth, chair of the CFUW-WV's Education Awards Committee, "because CFUW has been advocating for years at the provincial and national level for universal, quality, affordable, accessible early childhood care and education."

CapU's food services vendor, Chartwells, doesn't just serve up lunch – they believe in the power of students to initiate positive change. And as part of their commitment to CapU, they've created several exciting opportunities for students to receive support in their studies and beyond.

Thanks to this newest member of our CapU community, students will now benefit from three new $1,000 awards. The Chartwells Award for Environmental and Sustainable Achievement will support students involved in environmental and sustainability issues.

The Chartwells Indigenous Entrance Award will provide financial assistance to First Nations students who are beginning their studies at CapU, and the Chartwells Student Achievement and Community Involvement Scholarship will recognize students with high academic achievement who are involved in their communities.

In addition to the new awards that celebrate student achievements, Chartwells has also generously committed an additional $2,000 in support to students with financial need through the Chartwells Bursary. And to top it off – a CapU student was recently awarded one of three $5,000 Chartwells Campus Project grants offered each year across Canada for student projects relating to food sustainability. Fourth-year Tourism Management student Ben Glassen submitted the winning project, a creative and sustainable way to grow vegetables using fish waste as fertilizer.

Reportex Agencies looks to remove barriers and empower students to enjoy a successful career in the litigation industry who otherwise might not have had the chance.

Every year, Reportex Agencies gives a holiday gift to the assistants and paralegals who book with them. Owner Christy Pratt says it's not just a way to tell clients "thanks for the business," it's a way to acknowledge the hard work they do which often goes unappreciated.

Recently, Reportex decided to rethink the way they spend the holiday gift money and provide something that will make a real impact in people's lives: an annual $5,000 bursary to support student paralegals at CapU.

"Many of our clients have become close friends of mine over the years," says Pratt, "and many of them have talked about how many barriers they experienced during their education. We hope this gift can remove some of those barriers and empower students to enjoy a successful career in the litigation industry who otherwise might not have had the chance. No one should have to make a choice between getting an education and putting food on the table."

The CapU Foundation is grateful for the support of corporate partners like Reportex Agencies that help us ensure students can achieve their dreams.


Hundreds of CapU students contribute to the CapU experience by volunteering their time to enrich student life for their peers. Now the Capilano Students' Union wants to ensure they are recognized for their efforts. Those dedicated students now have a chance to be recognized through a new award established by the Capilano Students' Union (CSU).

The Capilano Students' Union Engagement Award, supported by an endowed gift of $25,000, will provide annual awards for students with outstanding involvement in campus activities. Whether it is spearheading events for recreation or dedicating time for campus-wide sustainability projects, student volunteers play a major role in building the Cap community for their peers – and will now be recognized for their dedication.

"There are many student volunteers who tirelessly give their time to improving the student experience at CapU," says Zach Renwick, CSU's President and Vice-President of Internal Development. "We hope this award will help encourage more of the student body to get involved."

Find out how you can support student achievements through scholarships, awards and bursaries by contacting the CapU Foundation


Have questions?

Philanthropy & Alumni Relations

604 984 4983
604 984 1758 (fax)
Birch Building, room BR449

Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Charitable Business Number: 11883 7756 RR0001

Capilano University Foundation

604 984 4983
604 984 1758 (fax)
Birch Building, room BR449