Giving is evergreen for Silver Heights alumni


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2021 (394 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The memory of being high schoolers is alive with a group of Silver Heights Collegiate alumni who give back to the community that shaped them and still brings them together over a meal and good conversation.

A group of Silver Heights alumni who graduated between 1960 and 1969 began to meet on the first Thursday of every month at Silver Heights Restaurant following a 50-year reunion dinner.

“On a low month, it might be 15 people, and on a good month, it could be 45 or 50,” alumnus Jim French said.

A group of 1960s Silver Heights Collegiate alumni meet most Thursdays at Silver Heights Restaurant. The group has offered the Silver Heights Collegiate 1960’s Alumni Award since 2007, with support from the St. James Scholarship Foundation. Jim French is pictured at front row centre (in the blue shirt) with his wife, Valerie French.

Following the reunion, Jim and his wife Valerie French (a Silver Heights alumna) felt they wanted to give back and found that many of their former classmates did, too. Within two months of the reunion, the group offered the first of many $500 annual scholarships to the school via the St. James Scholarship Foundation.

The award goes to Sturgeon Heights Collegiate, as it’s the closest school to where Silver Heights Collegiate once stood before it was demolished in 2007 (coincidentally, the same year as the 50-year reunion).

Bruce Alexander, president of the scholarship foundation, figured the generosity of the Silver Heights albumni could make an even bigger impact.

To create enough money to strike a sub-fund through The Winnipeg Foundation, a party must post $10,000. So, Alexander, a former school trustee, suggested the group come up with a bit more cash, which the scholarship foundation would match.

On Dec. 2, Alexander had the pleasure of informing the alumni that the sub-fund was approved.

“The big plus with it is those funds create awards in perpetuity — they never stop,” Alexander said. “It’s just been great working with them to help them get to that level.”

French said the support of Alexander and the foundation was instrumental in bringing the alumni’s scholarship to fruition over the years.

The St. James Scholarship Foundation distributes approximately $20,000 in awards annually. Most of the foundation’s donors are individuals, Alexander said.

Due to declining interest rates in guaranteed investment certificates, the scholarship fund started an agency fund with The Winnipeg Foundation six years ago.

“We’ve had a tremendous partnership with The Winnipeg Foundation…In the last six years, we’ve accumulated $250,000 capital with them,” Alexander said.

The scholarship foundation covers many schools in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division, including elementary and middle schools, but it deals primarily with area high schools. This focus allows the foundation to give graduating high school students financial aid.

While the foundation and the division aren’t formally linked, the foundation works closely with school administrations.

Alexander said that the need for scholarships is more important than in years past because the pandemic has disrupted many students’ part-time work, which in turn makes paying for college or university more of a challenge.

“They’ve really been at a significant disadvantage, so we’re looking more than ever for new donors now to help us expand this program,” he said

In light of the heightened adversity of the past couple of years, the St. James Scholarship Foundation recently created an annual $250 Resilience Award for each area high school. The awards are intended for students excelling despite significant physical, social, or monetary barriers.

Alexander can provide more information about the St. James Scholarship Foundation, including how to donate, by phone at 204-885-1876 or via email at

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.

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