Pascal Siakam’s charitable foundation helps with its own growth with Raptors

TORONTO — Shardaine Rowe Brown has always been a fan of Pascal Siakam. The 23-year-old played basketball in high school and can speak with authority about the Toronto Raptors star’s devastating rotational move.

But now, after a breakthrough summer made possible in part by Siakam’s generosity and deepening of his Toronto roots, the sophomore at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law is seeing “Spicy P.” in a new light.

“I’m a huge Raptors fan, I’m into the sport so I knew he was amazing, they don’t call him ‘Spicy P’ for no reason, his spinning motion is untouchable,” she said. said at a reception acknowledging Siakam. contribution to the school which funded summer internships for her and 11 of her classmates. “But I didn’t know about his foundation, so to know that he is really interested in helping young people. I’m really happy about that.”

For Siakam, using his PS43 Foundation to support TMU’s fledgling law program – now entering its third year – and its stated mission to “reinvent legal education in pursuit of a fairer society” is part of his own. growth. The raw rookie, who flew off the radar to earn a spot in the Raptors’ rotation as a late, unannounced first-round pick in 2016, is now 28 with training camp looming and just completed his second season. fully NBA. Siakam will be counted on to help bring the Raptors back to the Eastern Conference in their post-championship run.

As his responsibilities as one of the Raptors’ top scorers, playmakers and defensemen have steadily increased, Siakam has steadily grown his foundation, from initiatives to providing much-needed computers to middle schools in some of Toronto’s underserved neighborhoods or – in this case – empowering future leaders to go into the communities they live in and effect change on their own.

Siakam’s vision of the city he lives and works in has extended well beyond the confines of Scotiabank Arena or the OVO Athletic Centre.

“I mean, it’s seventh year for me now,” said Siakam, who visited some of the interns at a low-key private reception on the TMU campus Wednesday night. “I’m growing as a person and feeling more and more part of our community.

“I think with the support that [the community] gave me, it is right that I return. But it’s not just for that, it’s just who I am as a person and that’s how my dad was. It just makes sense.”

The opportunities created by Siakam’s donation have also helped recipients make sense of the path they have chosen.

Rowe Brown chose law because she wants to become a social justice lawyer and provide support to communities of people who need to be defended but who often struggle to overcome various obstacles – some of which are due to the legal system – to reach their potential.

The challenge facing many law students is that summer internships – which are essential for young lawyers to gain experience, make contacts and polish their resumes – outside of the corporate environment are often unpaid, which makes it difficult for students who have high tuition fees to choose. and a need to invest in their career on the other.

Siakam’s contribution aims to fill this gap.

“It allowed me to do my internship without adding financial anxiety,” said Rowe Brown, who commutes to his downtown classes from Ajax, a dormitory community east of Toronto. “Mine was a [otherwise] unpaid position, so I was going to have to find a job some other way because law school is expensive, and I don’t want to graduate with this crazy debt.”

She worked at Justice for Children and Youth in downtown Toronto, an organization focused on helping youth under 18 and homeless youth under 25 deal with a range of potential legal challenges they may face. they are faced. His duties involved outreach work in inner-city drop-in centers, assisting more experienced lawyers with forensic and legal research.

She ends the summer even more convinced of the path she has chosen and with a greater appreciation of what it entails.

“Working in the community is a whole different ballgame than being in the classroom,” Rowe Brown said. “Everything is different when you actually live a day in the life; you see what it’s like to be a lawyer, you know? It’s amazing to apply the theoretical things you learn in school to a real work environment.

“It was amazing being in the trenches and being able to actually help people and make them smile. … It was scary at first, but like everything else, once you got used to it, it became easier.

Pascal Siakam (behind) meets with the 12 interns at Metropolitan University of Toronto’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law. (Photo credit: Metropolitan University of Toronto)

That’s the kind of impact Siakam is thrilled to have. He joins teammates Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes, who have also provided financial support to post-secondary students in the Toronto area.

This is something that has only grown in importance for Siakam as her career has progressed and her charitable foundation has grown with her. It’s about honoring his late father’s focus on education and supporting the community he’s called home for nearly a decade now.

“I think the more we grow and the more things we do, the more we understand how we can help,” Siakam said. “Obviously we have a mission, but we are trying to put everything in place. At the end of the day, you know, these people are going to go out and help work with organizations that help young children and create a better community and a better world for everyone.

“So I think it’s all connected, it all makes sense.”

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