Donor of the Month : June

Evelyn on Vacation

Life as a Student During the United College Years

When asked about her fondest memories at United College, Evelyn Fletcher (née Bond) pieces together a story that encapsulates her experience as an undergrad in the early 1960s—a story that channels not only the dedicated nature of students attending the College, but also their propensity to challenge established educational norms.

In the final year of her major, Evelyn found herself in a scarcely-filled 20th Century French Literature classroom with 7 of her female peers. At the head of the class sat Ms. Mariam Frame, a lecturer on loan from the United States who was only a few years older than the students she was tasked with teaching. As the term progressed Evelyn and the other students became very close with their professor, frequenting French-style café’s together and meeting up after hours to discuss the merit of various critical lenses when applied to the likes of Michel Foucault and Jean Giraudoux. Jokingly, Evelyn remarks that her continued study of high literature led her French skills to develop in a rather interesting way, stating that “I was able to comment on the philosophical works of Jean-Paul Satre, but simple conversational French was a struggle at times.”

When final exams arrived, Ms. Frame’s class felt their French skills were more than ready for the single French essay required of them by the curriculum (as opposed to the accompanying 4 essays which were to be written in English). After working so hard, Evelyn and the others thought it would only be fair if they were graded on their French writing abilities rather than their English. After being told the curriculum would not be bent to satisfy the wishes of the class, Evelyn and her small but passionate cohort went straight to the department chair’s office and protested, eventually managing to change the mind of their superior and score successful grades across the board.

While Evelyn’s story is certainly unique, she points out that many of her best experiences at United College came as a result of her close relationship with faculty members, the supportive nature of the community, and the ambitious pursuit of lifelong learning she felt was shared amongst the student body—traditions that are still present at UWinnipeg over 50 years later.

Evelyn is still involved at UWinnipeg as a donor. After making her first donation in 1980, Evelyn has given to numerous funds for 41 years. The most recent of which being the Sid Williamson Memorial Award in Education. Before she passed away, Evelyn worked with Sid as part of the Fort Gary United Church Social Action Group. As part of her efforts with the group, she has helped support a number of refugee families entering Canada, with a focus on ensuring the children of these families receive the best education available. “Everybody should have access to higher education,” says Evelyn. “As an inner-city school, UWinnipeg has an obligation to the surrounding community in helping more young adults succeed in obtaining a degree.”

Evelyn’s relationship with UWinnipeg is also tied to her marriage with fellow graduate Don Fletcher. After finishing their degrees a few years apart, the couple decided to get married in the chapel that resides on the first floor of Bryce Hall. After stretching the recommended occupancy from 36 to 50, and with many others waiting outside, Evelyn and her husband Don were married in the summer of 1969. Looking back, Evelyn reaffirms that it was a fitting choice for her, saying that, “when I was a student, the College was a home away from home…we lived in places like the library, Tony’s Canteen, and I enjoyed many of the extracurricular activities that were offered, especially volleyball.”

57 years later, Evelyn still makes an effort to stay close with her fellow class of ’64 graduates. In 2014, she had the chance to reunite with many of her former colleagues as part of her class’s 50th anniversary reunion—an event that was so successful that the group elected to host a similar event 5 years later in 2019, calling it “Freedom 55”. “I’m amazed at how large the University has grown,” says Evelyn, “One of the fascinating changes my friends and I were delighted to discover was that the Winnipeg Roller Rink we used to frequent has seen part of its wooden foundation reused as part of the Richardson College building.”

Having spent her 35-year career as both a social worker and educator, Evelyn is set on helping aspiring students realize their true potential by continuing to support UWinnipeg’s student awards program. Moving forward, Evelyn and her husband hope to create a future award as part of their combined planned giving goals that would assist underprivileged students receive their undergraduate degree at UWinnipeg— a decision she believes will help others to experience the many joys of learning and fellowship that she did during her time at United College.