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Gail Asper receving the award with a representative from Investors Group, the award sponsor.


by Rhonda Spivak, Dec 1, 2017

[Editor's Note: Gail Asper O.C., O.M., LL.D., received the 2017 Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 at a gala luncheon at the RBC Convention Centre. Below is her short acceptance speech as it was originally written on receiving this prestigious award, and following the speech there is an interview  the Winnipeg Jewish Review conducted with Asper that took place following the gala luncheon.]
Gail Asper's Speech on Receiving the Outstanding Philanthropist Award  from the Association of Fundraising Professionals:

Minister Cox, ladies and gentleman,

This award, coming from people I deeply respect, is very meaningful to me. Thank you so much to the John Kearsey and Shelly Smith-Hines for taking the time to nominate me.


I would not be receiving this award were it not for my parents, Babs and Izzy Asper who are no longer here but who guide my actions every day. Thanks to my dad's business skills I am in a position to give back and thanks to the inspiring examples my parent set, I WANT to give back.  I dedicate this award to them and am so proud to be a second generation winner of this award - my dad having received it in 2001.


It makes me so happy to be in a position to help support causes near and dear to my heart. What a privilege!  Everyone knows I have a hard time saying no to donation requests. I know how hard people work to raise money and how depressing it is coming away with nothing so I always try to give something because it shows my gratitude for their efforts to repair the world. 


I salute all the award winners today and in particular am delighted the Richardsons are being recognized for their philanthropy which certainly had a transformational effect on many projects with which I have been involved. And it was when Hartley Richardson and I co-chaired MTC's capital campaign that I crossed paths with superstar Diane Boyle who lead that campaign. 


That resulted in our teaming up for the daunting Canadian Museum for Human Rights $150M campaign whose success is the reason that museum exists in its splendid form today.


I just want to remind everyone of 2 things. First - being a philanthropist doesn't necessarily mean having to give huge amounts. Sometime a small gift can be the catalyst for an organization to stay energized, hopeful and keep going. 


Second- people should dream big with their philanthropy and not be afraid of taking a leap of faith and investing in risky ventures- like a Human Rights Museum! Or the efforts to save The Experimental Lakes area! 


I can’t tell you lucky I feel to have been able to play a philanthropic role in initiatives like these- which are so near and dear to my heart!


Winston Churchill said:  “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”  My life has been immeasurably enriched by my philanthropic activities and I look forward to many more years of contributing to people and causes that make this world a better place. Thank you again for this wonderful award.
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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.