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Ida Albo
Samantha Katz

Human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and B’nai Brith senior legal counsel David Matas presented the evening’s co-chairs Polly Craik, Ginny Devine, Sherraine Christopherson and Sandy Shindleman with special presentations for their charitable involvement and outstanding leadership
Samantha Katz

Crowd at Fort Gary Hotel.The following lit candles at the event: Simone Cohen Scott; Richard Swyston; Marfisia and Sebastian Bell (Ida Albo’s children); Rev. Rudy Fidel, co-chair of the B’nai Brith Manitoba Christian Jewish Roundtable; Rev. Raymond McLean, co-chair of the B’nai Brith Manitoba Jewish Aboriginal Roundtable; Chief Garrison Settee of Cross Lake, Chief Michael Yellowback of the Manto Sipi Settee Cree nation, MKO Grand Chief David Harper, 2003 Award of Merit recipient Bob Silver, 2010 Award of Merit recipient Janice Filmon, B’nai Brith midwest regional director Alan Yusim; Gail Asper, chair of the Friends of the Canadian Human Right Museum, and Larry and Tova Vickar
Samantha Katz

Ida Albo, recipient of this year’s B’nai Brith Award of Merit, receives a plaque from (left to right) Gary Doer, former Manitoba Premier and currently Canada’s ambassador to the US; Earl Barish, chair, B’nai Brith’s national executive board; and one of last year’s recipients Sandy Shindleman. (Photo: Samantha Katz)


Rhonda J. Prepes


by Rhonda Spivak and Rhonda Prepes, Jan 3, 2012

Hotelier, economist, restauranteur and volunteer, Ida Albo was honoured with the B'nai Brith Canada 2012 Award of Merit in Winnipeg on November 27, 2012. The Award of Merit is reserved for individuals who have contributed through their efforts to enhance the social, cultural, business or political life of Canada.

Sandy Shindleman, who was one of the recipients of the award of merit last year emceed the evening that was was attended by over 400 people. He made a few hilarious remarks,including a stern warning for the crowd to ensure he was relieved of his duties as an  emcee in order to enable him to survey the dessert table, before others arrived.

Dr. Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada presented Albo with her award “in recognition and tribute to her personal and professional commitment to the further improvement of her city, province, and country…and her vision for a better tomorrow and devotion to the plight of others.”

“Since 1875 BB, the Jewish community's foremost human rights organization, has lit the menorah at the beginning of our programs to rededicate ourselves to the principles of our organizations: peace, hope, vision, justice, democracy, and truth,” said Chairman of National executive board of B’nai Brith Canada Earl Barish.

Gary Doer, former Manitoba premier and currently Canada’s ambassador to the US, arrived from Washington for the event. He spoke of the leadership and vision Albo demonstrated in her many undertakings, including the restoration of the Fort Garry Hotel, chair of Centre Venture Development Corporation, chair of the Guardian Angel Benefit Committee for Breast Cancer Research.

On Oct. 21,2012, a month before recepit of her B'nai Brith Award of Merit Albo received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Winnipeg’s Alumni Association during fall convocation ceremonies. [To read an article in the  Uniter about this, go to

Albo was introduced by her brother Frank, who delivered a touching and also humourous speech.

Albo spoke of her meagre beginnings as the daughter of uneducated but hard working Italian immigrants. Her personal story of success is a remarkable and inspiring one and for this reason the Winnipeg Jewish Review has chosen to reprint her remarks in full at the end of this article.


As I started preparing my notes for tonight’s speech my thoughts kept taking me back to the various forks in my road that have brought me here tonight in these grand ballrooms, attached to a National historic site with a world class spa that Rick and I have had the privilege of re-building and repositioning for the past 19 years. Growing up in Winnipeg’s inner city above a grocery store with parents that couldn’t read or write English or Italian I could never have imagined being here in front of you all, accompanied by husband, my children, my dad and my siblings.

The bio in the program is correct, at 52, I have been an economist, a restaurateur, a hotelier, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, and a yogi… all roles I am especially proud of, but don’t necessarily define me as a daughter to the most caring and loving parents, a wife to a husband who instilled in me the drive to never compromise and a finally and most importantly a mother because, I am not sure about the rest of you but it is often through my children’s trials and tribulations that my humanitarianism nature has flourished.

I am a first generation Canadian. My mother and father were southern Italian immigrants, who met and married in Winnipeg in 1958. Although neither had any formal education, - my mother may have completed Grade 2 and my father, slightly more refined, ascended to Grade 3 – When they immigrated to Canada, they were able to secure what they considered 'bery good' jobs.

My mother did piecework for Crown Cap; Her job was to sow the hard visor to the soft part of the cap and she could sow very fast. Although I couldn’t have been older than 4, I have fond memories of my mom ‘working from home’ and putting me to work snipping the hats apart and repacking the ‘finished product’. My dad too was entrepreneurial and hard working, with his main job, where he too made ‘good money’ was as a baker at Bryce Bakery.

By the time I was 6, my dad and his brother pooled enough money to open one of Winnipeg’s first Italian grocery stores on the corner of Bannatyne and Isabel. Our families, 10 in all, shared the apartment above the store, there was one bathroom and every room but the kitchen functioned as both a family room and a bedroom
Our parents worked hard and as soon as I was able to reach the cash register by standing on an inverted plastic milk box, I was ringing in grocery sales and learning to give change back without the assistance of an automated register. 

Besides working at the store I, also had a few side jobs the most lucrative of which took place each year in late June, when along with my cousins, we would go door-to-door shelping surplus Albo Meats and Grocery calendars. It did not phase us that half the year had come and gone; as we told our customers with summer here, Halloween coming and Christmas not that far off the best months were yet to come.

As we as a family started to grow, and it was about the time that my parents bought their own grocery store on Sargent and Dominion that I was not only a budding entrepreneur, but at the ripe age of 11 the seeds of my humanitarian spirit first gestated; albeit as a cunning karma vigilante.

A fist full of dimes, a trio of robust Italian girls, a boy for hire, and a bloody nose.

Our grocery store was kitty corner to Sargent Park School. As the oldest of three siblings, my job was not only to manage our extensive candy counter, but also to take my sisters for lunch afterwards to the Grill on Lipton and Sargent.

Despite our the brisk candy business, I was always mindful to hide a stash of long johns: cholesterol-reducing hot dog bun size donuts, sometimes filled with vanilla cream but always covered with milk chocolate, before they sold out. This snack was sustenance for our 4 block trek to the Lipton Grill; where lunch usually consisted of a Hot Turkey Sandwich, double-Bacon Cheese Burger, supplemented with a healthy fixing of fries with a side of gravy for dipping, and figure-enriching lemon meringue pie for dessert, but dessert only when lunch sales were such that we had to put back a couple of the long johns

Needless to say our lifestyle; managing a candy counter in a grocery store and our full meal deal daily lunch; not only ensured that we were all a bit rotund but also made one of my younger siblings the target of an unrelenting bully. As the matriarch of our sibling clan I took it upon myself to correct the situation. I grabbed a fist full of dimes from my candy cash stash; I hired the toughest six-g

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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