The Weeknd’s Generous Donation Helps Launch U of T Ge’ez Language Course

"His donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else."

Grammy award-winning R&B artist The Weeknd, birth-name Abel Tesfaye, donated $50,000 to the Bikila Award, a Toronto-based Ethiopian community organization at the University of Toronto.

The donation came about in 2016 when U of T professor Michael Gervers, of the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, pledged to donate $50,000 out of his own pocket if the university and the Ethiopian community would match it.

Looking for donors, the students reached out to the Weeknd, whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia. The students were shocked at the quick response from the artist, saying “his donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else.”

With the money raised, the students are able to launch a course in Ethiopian language and script and study the texts written in Ge’ez, a more than 2,000-year-old language not many people understand.