The Weeknd donates $50K to help launching Ethiopian studies program at University of Toronto


Grammy award-winner and Ethiopian Canadian Abel Tesfaye a.k.a The Weeknd donates $50K to help the launch of Ethiopian studies program at the University of Toronto according to USA Today report.

Canada is home to 70,000 people of Ethiopian origin, 70% of who are based in Ontario (with the majority in Toronto), according to Bikila Award, a Canadian organization that promotes studying and celebrating Ethiopian culture. Which is why University of Toronto history professor Michael Gervers, who teaches a course on Ethiopia, kick-started a cause to launch an Ethiopian studies program at the school last year, promising to match donations of up to $50,000, as reported by Tadias.

Abel Tesfaye — a Toronto native of Ethiopian descent better known by his moniker, The Weeknd — answered the call and donated $50,000


While helping Gervers’ canvas for potential donors, Bikila Award approached the Can’t Feel My Face singer, who won the organization’s Professional Excellence Award in 2014, about making a donation, according to The Star.

“Back then he was doing a lot of stuff, but was still a boy from Scarborough just rising to fame,” Tam Gebeyehu, a board member of Bikila Award told The Star. “His donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else.”

The program will cover Ethiopia’s history as well as its ancient language, Ge’ez, according to the university.

So far, over $170,000 has been raised for a course on the Ge’ez, an ancient Ethiopian script and language also known as Ethiopic, set to launch within the year.

“This initiative is a rare opportunity and of historical significance in the discovery of Ethiopia’s ancient civilizations, for the preservation of our rich culture, history and traditions,” said Tessema Mulugeta, president of the Bikila Award.

The cheque was to be presented on Saturday afternoon at U of T’s Varsity Stadium during the Bikila Barefoot Challenge event hosted by the university and Bikila Awards.

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