Jul 17, 2024

Athena Madan is a Canadian academician who describes herself as half Filipino and half Indian. Photo by Royal Roads University.

A new award has been established for Indigenous students at the University of Victoria.

The gift is tailored for those taking up a joint degree program in Canadian common law and Indigenous legal orders (JD/JID).

The award was created by lawyer Drew Mildon and his academician-wife Athena Madan.

The gift will help students with their financial needs while completing their JD/JID degree.

An online post by UVic on April 25, 2022 related that the endowment is called the Presquito Murdoch Indigenous Law Award.

The article noted that Madan will be joining UVic as an assistant professor of sociology in July.

Madan shares the commitment to “creating, making and holding space for Indigenous voices”.

The couple hopes that the award will “help maintain a path for Indigenous students, who will further unlock the future for their descendants and continue to oppose oppression in all its forms”. 

The piece explained that Mildon and Madan named the award to honour their grandmothers, who didn’t have access to educational opportunities.

“My own ancestors are Cordilleran Filipino, who are politically active Indigenous land defenders. My Lola [Presquito] would sit and eavesdrop outside of the gated area of schools in the Philippines and squint through the slats of the wooden fence and learn how to read and write,” Madan said. [Lola is the Tagalog word for grandmother.]

The Cordillera is a highland region in the northern portion of the Philippines.

It has been the traditional home to Filipino Indigenous people.

The UVic post recalled that Mildon’s grandmother [Murdoch], who was deaf, overcame adversity to raise four children alone.

“My hope is that [an Indigenous law student] might be inspired by our grandmothers’ stories and feel more able to give to their own communities. Hopefully, the fruit of their labours will assist with self-determination and help facilitate our own commitments to reconciliation in the Canadian landscape,” Madan said.

The first Presquito Murdoch Indigenous Law award will be disbursed this fall.

UVic in 2018 launched the world’s first joint degree program in Canadian common law and Indigenous legal orders.

Students who complete the four-year program finish with two professional degrees: a Juris Doctor (JD) and a Juris Indigenarum Doctor (JID).

In an online profile, Madan describes herself as “half Filipino and half Indian”.

She has a PhD in public health, sociology and equity studies from the University of Toronto.

Madan was previously an assistant professor in the School of Humanitarian Studies of Royal Roads University, also in Victoria, B.C.

Mildon is a partner with the Victoria-based Woodward & Company Lawyers LLP.


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