“We would definitely hope to meet him and thank him in person,” said Tim Harrison, following The Weeknd’s donation to U of T’s Ethiopian Studies program

By Shanifa Nasser (CBC News) |

Grammy-winning artist The Weeknd, who has made no secret of the influence his Ethiopian heritage has on his music, made a $50,000 donation to the University of Toronto this weekend — a contribution to a hoped-for Ethiopian Studies program.

The family of the R&B musician, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, presented the check at a fundraising event on Sunday at Varsity Stadium, Tim Harrison, chair of the university’s Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations department, told CBC News.

The donation is part of a larger fundraising campaign that began in 2015, when Scarborough-campus Professor Michael Gervers promised to donate $50,000 of his own money if the university and wider Ethiopian community would help match contributions.

ALSO READ The Weeknd Welcomed Back by Toronto’s Ethiopian Community in Homecoming Concert

Born and raised in Scarborough, Tesfaye has been a source of pride within the Ethiopian community, and has introduced strands of Ethiopian culture to his broader fan base, sampling Amharic in some of his songs.

So when the Toronto-based non-profit Ethiopian group Bikila Award, which promotes volunteerism within the community, joined the effort to raise money for the program, Tesfaye responded to the call, posting about it on his Twitter account Saturday.

Continue reading this story on CBC News
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