Remembering CBU’s Friend and Mentor: Purdy Crawford

Everyone at Cape Breton University is deeply saddened at the passing of friend and supporter, Mr. Purdy Crawford. Mr. Crawford has been associated with CBU since 2006 when, upon invitation of his friend Mr. Joe Shannon, he became an inaugural member of the Shannon School of Business Advisory Board.

Purdy Crawford

“… always the mentor, he particularly enjoyed meeting with students and faculty from the business school, even providing a weekly reading list: Purdy’s Picks”, reflected CBU President David Wheeler.

Recognized as an individual who mentored a generation of Canadian business people, Mr. Crawford also served as an adviser to CBU’s Chancellor Annette Verschuren, “I first met him when I was in my twenties and working at the Cape Breton Development Corporation. He was such an inspiration and I can now say that I have had 35 years of his advice and guidance. What a gift!  I will miss him terribly.”

In 2008, Mr. Crawford received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Cape Breton University and in 2010, as part of a CBU Honorary Degree ceremony at Membertou First Nations Community, was honoured with the title of Honorary Chieftain of Membertou by Chief Terry Paul.   Purdy would often comment that one of his proudest Cape Breton moments came when he was made Honorary Chief Rising Tide – Chief Paul noting that “a rising tide floats all boats”.   And he would joke that he was still searching for his twin ‘Chief Ebbing Tide’.

This ceremony also marked the announcement of Cape Breton University’s Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies. As a result of the strong relationship established between Chief Paul, also a member of the Shannon Advisory Board, and Purdy, the idea developed to create a research chair to promote interest among Canada’s Indigenous people in the study of business at the post-secondary level, while undertaking pure and applied research specific to Aboriginal communities. 

Dr. Keith Brown, holder of the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies reflects in his blog posting the bond that he and the University have with Mr. Crawford.

In the 2013 Federal Budget, the late Finance Minister, the Hon. Jim Flaherty showed the Federal Government’s support for the work of the Purdy Crawford Chair by providing $5 million in funding. This funding came with the request to take the work of the Chair across the country.

In September of this year, CBU has been planning an event to be hosted by its Shannon School of Business Advisory Board Chair, Mr. Joe Shannon, to honour Mr. Crawford and gain further recognition for the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies.  The event will now be a poignant celebration of a life well lived and the legacy established in Purdy’s name – the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies.

Heartfelt sympathies are extended to Bea Crawford and the Crawford children on the passing of a husband, father, grandfather and a truly great Canadian.