Pharmacist Ian Stewart with Pharmacy Technician Tishana Nelson-Erwin

From student to alumnus, preceptor to supporter – Ian Stewart’s journey with the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy is truly remarkable.

A community pharmacist in West Toronto, Stewart is a strong advocate for youth, particularly those from under-represented communities.

“I like to motivate students to be the best they can be,” said Stewart, (BScPhm ’88). “I want Black youth to understand that pharmacy is a great career and a well-respected profession. To help them achieve a great outcome — either through motivational coaching or financial support — is rewarding to me.”

That’s why Stewart gave a $25,000 gift to the Faculty to support the Ian Stewart/Shoppers Drug Mart Scholarship for Black Students in August 2020

That’s why Stewart gave a $25,000 gift to the Faculty to support the Ian Stewart/Shoppers Drug Mart Scholarship for Black Students in August 2020. Every year, the scholarship will recognize one deserving Black student entering their first year of the pharmacy program who demonstrates a commitment to community volunteering as well as financial need.

Inspired by Stewart’s commitment and generosity, Shoppers Drug Mart decided to match his gift and added their own $25,000 contribution to the award, doubling the amount each student will receive every year.

“The Faculty and the profession of Pharmacy have given me more than a career. They’ve given me the opportunity to positively touch countless lives,” said Stewart, who is the Faculty’s inaugural recipient of the Alumni Service Award in recognition of his volunteer service and leadership.

“Giving back to a Faculty that has given me so much is a great way to help provide much-needed financial support to current and future students. This is especially important for marginalized students facing financial and other barriers.”

Stewart’s gift arrives at a time when pharmacists are in the spotlight. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists are filling the gap created by limited primary care doctor availability.

“We’ve heard so much gratitude from patients, and I like how patients have turned to us in recent months. We’ve heard, ‘Wow, I’m so glad you’re here. I didn’t realize how important you were,’” said Stewart, reflecting on how pharmacists are invaluable to patients and the health system broadly.

But Stewart has always understood the critical role pharmacists play as one of the most accessible health professionals in the community.

Shortly after becoming the Pharmacist Owner of his Shoppers Drug Mart franchise location in 1993, he decided that patients deserved to have a pharmacist available 24/7. Today his store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“I joke that I have no locks on the doors. People know that no matter what, patients can come here to ask questions about their health and receive appropriate care. If their doctor isn't available, we can answer their questions and prescribe medications when appropriate,” said Stewart.

The importance of accessibility – both as a resource for patients when they need it and as a career option for marginalized populations – is a vital concept for Stewart.

“I encourage all LDFP graduates to join me in making a donation to the LDFP and make a difference in the life of a future leader.”

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