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A legacy like no other

The Laura Tilson Memorial Bursary was created to support students with physical or sensory disabilities
May 14, 2023

A portrait of Cameron Tilson and Wendy Morse-Tilson Cameron Tilson and Wendy Morse-Tilson have recently taken steps to endow a bursary fund, first established in 2009, in perpetuity.

There are dedicated Concordians, and then there are Concordians like Cameron Tilson, BSc 82.

Geology graduate. Staffer. Proud parent of two alumni (Jonathan Tilson, BA 18, and Emma Tilson, BFA 20). Donor to the Campaign for Concordia.

It is safe to say that Tilson — soon to be retired after 41 years of service to the university, the past 17 spent as assistant director, Institutional Planning and Analysis — has done his part to impact the Concordia community.

So, too, has his wife, Wendy Morse-Tilson. Together, they have recently taken steps — with the support of extended family and friends over the years — to endow a bursary fund, first established in 2009, in perpetuity.

The Laura Tilson Memorial Bursary was created in honour of the couple’s daughter and second child, who died in 1994.

“She was born with a metabolic disease that was only diagnosed at six months of age,” says Tilson, whose career at Concordia began as a geological technician in 1981. “Laura lived with us for almost three years. It was an extraordinary and challenging time.”

After their loss, Cameron and Wendy gave to the institution where they had spent so much of their time with Laura, the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

“We dealt with many departments at the Children’s, and they were all fantastic,” he says.

Eventually, though, the couple made the decision to create a more targeted and permanent legacy.

The Concordia bursary in Laura’s name now provides $1,000 in assistance to annually support one student with a physical or sensory disability. In order to qualify, applicants must be registered with the university’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities, which promotes equal access to education and a more inclusive campus environment and community.

The Tilsons have had the opportunity to meet several of their bursary recipients since it was first established. These encounters have meant a lot to the couple, says Cameron.

“It has always been wonderful to meet them over the years at various receptions. They’re all amazing and very determined individuals, and we’ve been so pleased to be able to help them.”

For current fine-arts student Emery Vanderburgh, the bursary came at an opportune time.

“Having to navigate full-time studies and my health, while feeling financially insecure, was a huge weight,” she says. “Through this funding, I was able to dedicate myself to my creative practice without feeling guilty or worried.”

Another recipient, Melissa Montour, BA 16, a member of the Mohawk community of Kahnawá:ke, was even inspired to establish a bursary of her own in support of Indigenous students at Concordia.

“This was wonderful to hear,” says Tilson. “To think that our gesture could play a part in someone else’s decision to pay it forward — it is both remarkable and heartwarming.”

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