A Message from Gail Asper, President and Trustee
It is hard to believe that so many years have passed since the unexpected death of my father, Israel Asper, in 2003. As well, in 2011 our beloved mother Ruth (Babs) Asper suddenly passed away.
I find it very difficult to read the preceding words of my parents without feeling a great sense of loss, not just for our family but also for the world. 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 incredible 47-year marriage was a testament to the power of love, devotion and giving. We have, however, taken up the ambitious vision for his 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.
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 culture, education and training, healthcare, community development and human rights locally, nationally and internationally.
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 and passion in order for us to achieve our goals 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; David Asper, 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 the values of my parents to their eight grandchildren. Believing that it is important to give back to one’s community, all family members are involved in a broad range of charitable activities and have a strong understanding of the needs of the community. We adopt or initiate projects that have a measurable positive impact and which set an example for others to follow. For, while we believe in initiating projects of importance throughout the community, we take the view that it is also the responsibility of the community as a whole to contribute their time and resources to such projects. In our view, leadership involves not only taking the lead, but also ensuring that others follow and eventually take up where we leave off so that valuable projects are carried on in perpetuity for the benefit of all. In employing this strict discipline, we are able to move from project to project in an entrepreneurial fashion, leaving the ongoing management of the project to other members of the community, while we launch new initiatives.
In the year and years ahead, in accordance with the wishes of my late parents, we will continue to employ this strategy to our existing programs, working to 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 as a result of the Foundation’s efforts. In this way, we have all but guaranteed that the spirit of Israel and Babs Asper will live forever and their dreams continue to become reality.