Brenda Sutherland was often referred to as ‘the den mother of NPSIA’ and ‘a force of nature’, Brenda served as School Administrator for 31 years where she gained recognition for her lifechanging guidance and support.

Brenda Sutherland’s time working in the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) was a monumental part of her life. While NPSIA held a special place in Brenda’s heart, it was her compassion and care that made it feel like a second home for students, many of whom were international.

In her self-authored obituary, she wrote, “I was also happy to have been part of The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. I spent thirty plus years assisting students and faculty in their day-to-day routines. There were many wonderful students many of whom I kept in touch with over the years, yay social media. I may be gone but the stories will live on.”

Brenda Sutherland pictured in her office in NPSIA

Brenda’s two daughters, Tracey Sutherland-Benoit and Robyn Lucarelli, fondly reminisced about how their mother treated students like an extension of their family, and how she opened her heart and home to students, and always had seats at the dinner table reserved for them to celebrate special occasions like Thanksgiving.  They recounted childhood memories of faculty and staff gathered in every corner of their home for the annual potluck dinner, a tradition maintained by Brenda for as long as they can remember. The evening was made vibrant with unique international dishes, singing around the piano and conversations that turned into lifelong friendships.

In a book prepared by the school in recognition of Brenda’s retirement, there was an outpouring of love, admiration and immense gratitude for the incalculable impact she left on the lives of so many.  She left such an imprint on the lives of students that one even honoured her by naming his first daughter after Brenda.

Spearheaded through a generous donation from Ajay and Daniela Kaisth—alumni of NPSIA—the Brenda Sutherland Fund for NPSIA students reinforces, and continues even after Brenda’s passing, the lifelong positive impact that Brenda had on students who she touched through her mentorship. From assisting students with finding housing to showing her support at graduation ceremonies, Brenda even attended Ajay and Daniela’s wedding in Pennsylvania to spend time with them as they tied the knot.

Daniela Kaisth, Brenda Sutherland and Ajay Kaisth

As Ajay and Daniela said, “Brenda was like a guardian angel to NPSIA students, especially international students like Ajay, who she helped with housing, scholarships, employment and, equally valuable, good humor and witty advice. Brenda’s wonderful spirit inspired the motto we have for this fund: ‘Success is important, but kindness matters.’  We will always be grateful to Brenda for welcoming us, and so many other students to NPSIA and Canada with open arms.”

Brenda’s daughters feel privileged, honored and thankful to Ajay and Daniela for establishing this fund in their mother’s name, and view it as a meaningful way to continue her legacy of supporting graduate students during their academic journey. They hope that students, faculty, alumni and staff will continue to share their memories of Brenda Sutherland’s time in NPSIA with future generations of graduates. As Robyn and Tracey said, “Our mom wanted to do anything she could to have students succeed, she would have been blown away and thankful by having this tribute created in her name.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”

At the discretion of the Director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), the purpose of this fund is to support short-term financial assistance to graduate students enrolled in a program at NPSIA and who are unable to meet essential academic and/or personal expenses as a result of a temporary hardship related to a personal emergency situation. Preference will be given to international students attending Carleton from a country rated as having a low to middle income economy as listed by the World Bank. Application is required. Endowed in 2021 by Daniela and Ajay Kaisth in memory of Brenda Sutherland.