A Message from Gail Asper, President and Trustee
It is hard to believe that 35 years have passed since our beloved parents, Babs and Israel Asper, had the vision to create a permanent endowment fund that would help repair the world in perpetuity. While we mourn their passing in 2011 and 2003 respectively, we feel honoured and privileged to be able to play a role in advancing the goals of The Asper Foundation.
After a life of building a business, my father was greatly looking forward to devoting his considerable energy, creativity and resources to philanthropy. My mother revelled in her lifetime of philanthropic work with phenomenal pride in and devotion to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. She wore her Museum “shine pin” wherever she went and was the consummate fundraiser. Their 47-year marriage was a testament to the power of love, devotion and giving.
Since its creation in 1983, the Foundation has evolved from writing one or two cheques for major community-based groups, to being the lead donor and creator of innovative programming in areas such as Jewish and Israeli causes, culture, education and training, healthcare, community development and human rights locally, nationally and internationally. We have embraced the ambitious vision my parents had for the foundation. Whether it is projects as broad as the creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights or innovative programs like the Edible Garden in Israel, we have set the bar high.
To be able to play a role in the foundation’s numerous activities is indeed an honour and a privilege. Knowing that each and every day your actions affect the lives of others and have a positive impact is obviously one of the most gratifying things about working with the foundation.
Our small but dedicated team is inspired by my parent’s original vision of leaving the world a better place than the way in which we found it. This is accomplished by initiating and focusing our energies on major projects, by addressing unmet needs in the community and by sticking to our philosophy of only taking on initiatives which would not be completed without The Asper Foundation’s involvement.
The Asper Foundation is fueled by the ideas and commitment of its Trustees; Chair of the Board, David Asper, Vice Chair, Leonard Asper, Richard Leipsic and me. We also gratefully acknowledge Moe Levy, our Executive Director since 1999. Without his leadership, the accomplishments of The Asper Foundation would not be possible. As well, Jeff Morry, our Senior Program Manager has played an instrumental role in The Asper Foundation since 2001.
We, in turn, are also passing on the values of my parents to their eight grandchildren. We have begun the process of involving this next generation with the activities of The Asper Foundation. Believing that it is important to give back to one’s community, all family members are also encouraged to be involved in a broad range of charitable activities and have a strong understanding of the needs of the community.
In the years ahead, in accordance with the wishes of my late parents, we will continue to educate the future trustees and build strong partnerships and involve more individuals, public and private foundations, governments and community groups in the projects we have initiated. We will continue to explore the expansion of our existing programs as well as the creation of brand new ones in consultation with the members of the Asper family and the members of the communities where we live.
The Asper Foundation, its staff and Directors are committed to ensuring that the goals and aspirations of its founders, Israel and Babs Asper, are fulfilled so that lives and community and the world are transformed.