A $150,000 gift to the University of King’s College secures a strong future for two important initiatives: the Alex Fountain Memorial Lecture, which enables students to invite a speaker of their choosing to campus, and the Stay Connected Mental Health Project, which ensures students needing peer support receive it.
Fred and Elizabeth Fountain have contributed an additional $100,000 to the Alex Fountain Memorial Lecture Fund which, since 2011, has funded an annual lecture in their son Alex’s memory. Alex Fountain was a 4th year student and well-loved member of the King’s community who died by suicide in 2009 when he was 20. Their initial gift has allowed the King’s student body to vote for a speaker of their choosing every year for the past seven years. Past Alex Fountain Memorial Lecturers have included Tanya Tagaq, Michael Ondaatje and Michaëlle Jean—speakers who have challenged, provoked and delighted audiences. The addition to the fund secures its future as an annual lecture that has become a beloved tradition.
“We want students to continue nominating speakers who will teach and inspire them. They need to keep driving this series in a direction that they set,” Fred Fountain said. “It’s their annual lecture and Elizabeth, our daughter Katharine and I are delighted it exists for them. Coming to the Alex Fountain Memorial Lecture at King’s is always a meaningful night for our family.”
The second portion of the gift is being directed toward the Stay Connected Mental Health Project and will be used to finance a permanent peer support position at King’s. An important part of the Stay Connected Mental Health Project, established through the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation by the Fountains in 2013, is the collaboration between five Halifax universities and the QEII and IWK Hospitals. It funds on-campus peer support workers who provide free, non-judgemental, confidential and safe mental health support to students. The Fountain’s $50,000 gift to the project at King’s will be endowed so that the College can fund a peer support position indefinitely.
“Peer supporters are trained to provide a listening ear and can connect struggling students with more professional resources if they need them,” Elizabeth Fountain said. “We have heard that many students are interested in becoming peer supporters and that students who seek peer support assistance really value it. And knowing that peer support is available and has a secure future at King’s gives us great comfort too.”
The Fountains were inspired to make the $150,000 gift as part of a series of sesquicentennial inspired contributions during Fred’s 2017 year as a Canada 150 Ambassador. Canada 150 Ambassadors were noted Canadians hailing from a variety of professional fields and regions of the country—who called on their compatriots to celebrate Canada.
“This gift to King’s goes to the heart of what makes King’s special: students who share a love for ideas, learning and debate and who care about and for one another,” said King’s President William Lahey. “It will make our university a more culturally enriched and supportive place to study.”