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


by Rhonda J. Prepes, October 31, 2014


Ivan Berkowitz was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee MEDAL for giving significantly to our community. He has branched 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 and by hand. All pieces are food safe and can go in the oven, microwave and dishwasher. They are special to use and make excellent gifts, so recipients will always think of the giver” said Berkowitz.


“I was introduced to the local production of pottery when my daughters went to Montessori pre-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 for sale at FORKS TRADING on the 2nd Floor in the FORKS MARKET; at the BIRCHWOOD GALLERY at 6-1170 Taylor Av; and in the entrance at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.”

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


For more information e-mail 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 community involvement I had was in 1974, when we saved the Jets from leaving Winnipeg. A group of leaders raised $650,000 to keep the Jets under public ownership 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 experience under his belt, Berkowitz became the Manitoba Heart Foundation fund-raising chairman and successfully led their first public campaign. Later as the President of the Manitoba Heart Foundation, he helped to raise over a million dollars. Berkowitz subsequently served on the board of the Canadian Heart Foundation. He also devoted countless hours to Variety, the Children’s Charity which launched the Variety Children’s Heart Centre and Pediatric Post-op Care Unit and he was elected as an International Vice President.


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 developments 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 more than 1,000 people.


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 Network which recently published the 50th issue. 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 (with whom Berkowitz had worked to create the Myles Robinson Memorial Heart Trust) Heart Health Lecture where Dr. Eldon Smith discussed the Canadian Heart Health Strategy. This Conference celebrated the  100 - years 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 and the IACS 2nd Cardiovascular Forum. Also, Berkowitz is working on a project to develop a new strategy to deal with women’s heart disease among Manitoba’s Aboriginal Community and 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 was held on October 3, 2013 where the keynote speaker was Dr. Salim Yusuf from Hamilton who is one of the top experts in the world on the prevention of heart disease. His extraordinary talk, among many others, is online at


Berkowitz was the catalyst of a major event to open the recent 2nd CV Forum on Sept. 4, 2014 which extended IACS Appreciation for a long-term commitment from the Levit Family and launched the Yetta and Jack Levit Program for the Promotion of Heart Health in Manitoba. The photo is of Dr. Dhalla welcoming the Levits with their daughter Diane.


Dr. Robert Roberts from Ottawa gave an extraordinary talk “Cardiovascular Genetics – A Glimpse of Medicine in the Future”.


The 2015 Buchwald Lecture has been planned for May 4th. The speaker will be Dr. Noel Bairey Merz from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

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