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David Asper receiving the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal from MP Joyce Bateman


by Rhonda Spivak, March 3, 2014

A belated congratulations to David and Ruth Asper who both received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. If you thought that was a ticket to retirement, think again as this busy couple keeps on truckin’!



When he received his medal MP Joyce Bateman said, “David Asper is an esteemed teacher, business leader, volunteer and philanthropist whose hard work has been a valuable asset to our community. It is an honour to recognize him for his valuable contributions to our community.”


David is the Chair of the Asper Foundation, which was founded in 1983 to undertake, develop and support major initiatives in the areas of Jewish charity as well as, culture, education, community development and human rights locally, nationally, and internationally. In the recent past, over $125 million has been donated to various charitable causes through the Asper Foundation.


In business, most people will know that David held numerous positions within Canwest including chair of the National Post. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Creswin Properties and was one of the founders of Canterbury Park Capital.  In 2011, Creswin Properties took  home BOMA Manitoba's The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Award for 201 Portage, located at Winnipeg's most famous intersection. The award from BOMA Manitoba shows Creswin's committment to sound environmental practices and social responsibility.


Currently David has co-founded Amenity Healthcare and serves as it chair. Since its launch a few months ago, Amenity has acquired 10 rural and neighbourhood pharmacies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and he says there is still room for significant growth in the company.


David is also a “knight” investor through the Manitoba Technology Accelerator, which is an incubator for emerging Manitoba companies. In this capacity he serves on the boards of Cubresa Inc. and Arterial Stiffness Inc.


Asper says, "Cubresa's mission is to improve preclinical and clinical healthcare through the development of unique solutions and technologies,"  by using "smaller more customized SPECT AND gamma cameras." 


As Asper explains, "Arterial Stiffness Inc. (ASI) has developed a portable and non-invasive device that measures the amount of arteriosclerosis a person has and compares the person’s score against a population health database to determine risk for cardio vascular events." 


DAVID will chair the 2014 Chair of the Winnipeg Real Estate Forum conference which occurs on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in the Winnipeg Convention Centre.


"The Forum occurs every two years and is an opportunity to take stock, look back and also look forward. It deals with all sectors in real estate in Winnipeg," Asper told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.


He further noted that the Forum will examine the current strength of the Winnipeg economy and its real estate market, and how it is performing from both a leasing, development and investment perspective.  Winnipeg has a very diverse economy that includes aerospace, finance and insurance, transportation, agribusiness, information technology, furniture and apparel industries. In 2012, the 2nd Forum was sold out with an attendance of over 560 executives – 30% of whom were from outside of Manitoba.


Asper is currently the vice Chair of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and has been a Vice Chair of the CFL Board of Governors and past chair of the football club. 


"I was re-elected to the Bomber's Board in 2011 and then appointed Vice-Chair of the Board. I am also honoured to be co-chairing the Grey Cup Festival when it returns to Winnipeg," he told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, noting he is looking forward to the event, and especially to introducing new people to the Grey Cup Committee who can succeed the current leadership. “It’s a huge undertaking and we want to ensure a smooth transition going forward”.


Asper previously served as co-chair of the very successful 2006 Canadian football league Championship Grey Cup Festival held in Winnipeg for which he was recognized with the Destination Winnipeg Award of Distinction and a Special Award by the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.


His commitment to the sport of football goes beyond the Bombers. In 2013, some 80 Bison’s football players welcomed Asper into their locker room with a standing ovation for the official ribbon cutting of the newly inaugurated palatial David Asper University of Manitoba Bisons Football Centre. The stadium project, which he had led for several years, has gotten rave reviews. The Bison's facilities in it are also top notch.


"We're serious. We're serious about their success, both academically and athletically," Asper told the Winnipeg Sun. "And we didn't have that with the Butler Hut. What does it say about your program when you live in a shack? You're a hobo."


Asper told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he was totally surprised by the reception and it moved him to tears. “There I was amongst a group of big tough football players and all I could do was cry about how amazing they looked in that locker room. Vince Lombardi? Not!”



In addition to their work through the Asper Foundation, David and Ruth have also established a private Foundation which supports many philanthropic projects. It has been recognized for its leading endowment gift to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba toward promoting physical activity and young people. The Big Ticker Award provides a cash award to schools that paved the way in increasing student participation in Heart Activity programs. The Foundation was also recognized by the Canadian Sport Centre of Manitoba for its support of aspiring Manitoba based future Olympian athletes. It also provided capital funding for "Taking Charge" an inner city day care facility for Aboriginal Canadians.  


David and Ruth have also been lead donors to the capital campaign of The Pan Am Clinic Foundation, which supported the establishment of the David and Ruth Asper Research Centre.  This support includes allocation of ongoing and long-term funds for a dedicated research team and expansion of the existing research program to create an on-site biomechanics research centre for objective measurement of patient outcomes. David is current

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.