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Statue of Ghandi which graces the path to the CMHR
Photo by Al Dueck


by Rhonda J. Prepes, April 28, 2013

Ivan Berkowitz recent recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee for giving significantly to the community is now branching out into the art world. Berkowitz is making handmade original clay pottery.

“Some pieces are thrown on the wheel and some pieces are sculpted from a slab by hand. All pieces are food safe and can go in the oven, microwave and dishwasher. They make excellent Mother’s Day gifts,” said Berkowits at a recent craft sale in Portage Place.

“Don’t look for them in Wal-Mart because you won’t find them there.”

“I was introduced to the local production of pottery when my daughters went to Montessori school. I started to buy it, use it and give it as gifts. And I continued to do so for 40 years. About 15 years ago, I was given some lessons on pottery making at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I enjoyed it, so I kept making pottery. I took more lessons and found different ways to approach doing it.”

“Some of my pieces are in the Blue Heron in Kenora and also in the gift shop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.”

Berkowitz’s next art show is on May 10, 2013 in the concourse at 201 Portage Avenue (TD Centre/ CanWest) with part of the proceeds going to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

To see a photo album of his products, go to:

For more information email Ivan at [email protected]

Berkowitz gave a brief history of his contributions to the community.

“I like to say that I have followed the baby boomers. First bringing the jean craze to Winnipeg with the family business Monarch Wear, then bringing the home, boat and car shows to town when the baby boomers were interested in buying homes, boats, and cars and now I am drawing attention to heart health matters for the aging boomers,” Berkowitz said.

“The first major involvement I had was in 1974, when we saved the Jets (from leaving Winnipeg) by fundraising. A group of community leaders raised $650,000 to keep the Jets alive and in Winnipeg. After that we followed the recommendation of Dr. Gerry Wilson, who had been in Sweden doing some medical study. He suggested we bring some of the young Swedish hockey players to Winnipeg. We did and it changed the nature of the team and it made a difference in the way hockey was played in Canada,” Berkowitz said.

With fundraising experience under his belt, Berkowitz became the Manitoba Heart Foundation fund-raising chairman and successfully led their first fundraising campaign. Later as the president of the Manitoba Heart Foundation, he helped to raise over a million dollars. Berkowits went on to sit on the board of the Canadian Heart Foundation.

Berkowitz has spent the last twenty years organizing events to share knowledge about prevention, early detection and research on heart health.

“There are still not enough people engaged in their own heart health,” said Berkowitz who has no medical or scientific education but did earn an MBA from Harvard.

In 2001, Berkowitz coordinated the biggest Heart Conference in Winnipeg to expose heart research to more than 2,000 heart health professionals from 72 countries. In association with this conference, he organized a Public Heart Health Forum where experts shared their knowledge with the public. More than 1,000 people attended the Public Forum.

Since 2001, he has aided Dr. Naranjan Dhalla to build the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences (IACS). He became the editor of the quarterly bulletin CV (Cardiovascular) Network which is in its 12th year.
In 2006, Berkowitz planned a major international meeting to discuss the Future of Heart Health which featured renowned researcher and cardiologist Dr. Noel Bairey Merz who discussed heart health prevention for women.

In 2008, Berkowitz organized the first Harold Buchwald Memorial Heart Health Lecture where Dr. Eldon Smith discussed the Canadian Heart Health Strategy. This Conference celebrated the 100 - year life of the "Father of Cardiac Surgery" Dr. Michael DeBakey, who like Harold Buchwald had sadly passed away a few months earlier.

The 2009 Buchwald Lecture introduced Manitobans to the vision of Dr. Jay Cohn from Minneapolis as "A Strategy for Everyone to Live Past 100". Berkowitz has been passionate to bring Cohn's Early Detection of CVD to Winnipeg. Indeed, the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation is committed to launch a trial of the program led by Dr. Todd Duhamel who has been imaginatively inspired by Ivan Berkowitz.

In 2011, the speaker was Dr. Sharon Mulvagh from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Berkowitz had previously invited her to a Public Forum and anticipated she would certainly stimulate more interest in women’s heart health. Beyond his characteristic optimism, Dr. Mulvagh stirred excitement in the public and at St. Boniface Hospital. Recently, Dr. Mulvagh spoke in Winnipeg again as keynote speaker at their Women’s Heart Initiative. Also, Berkowitz is working on a project to develop a new strategy to deal with women’s heart disease in Gujarat in India. Speaking of this, Berkowitz pointed out that Mahatma Ghandi's home was in Gujarat and he had a wonderful experience when he supported Dr. Dhalla's project with Izzy and Gail Asper to bring the government of India's gift of the statue of Ghandi which now graces the path to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights Museum.

The 5th Harold Buchwald Memorial Heart Health Lecture will be held on October 3, 2013 where the keynote speaker will be Dr. Salim Yusuf from Hamilton who is one of the top experts in the world on the prevention of heart disease. This will a project of another effort of which Berkowitz is the catalyst, the IACS Manitoba Heart Health Think Tank which is exploring opportunities to encourage Manitobans' heart health.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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