Gail Asper, O.C., O.M., LL.D.

Gail Asper is a woman who did what some consider the impossible. She is responsible for the construction of the first national museum (an architectural treasure and award winner) built outside of Ottawa and the National Capital Region. The visionary, respected Winnipeg lawyer, philanthropist and president and trustee of the Asper Foundation spearheaded the creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Established in 2008 through the enactment of Bill C-42, an amendment of the Canadian Museums Act, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was the first new national museum created in Canada since 1967.

Asper ran one of the biggest fundraising campaigns in Canadian history to get the museum built. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and on the Board of the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Canadian generosity is exemplified in Gail Asper, who is a tireless champion for arts and culture. A visionary dreamer whose courage and conviction inspire others to see Manitoba’s vast potential, Asper inspires us to serve, to give, and to make our community a better place.

She is well known for her support of the arts and her volunteer efforts encompass a myriad of causes. She has served on the boards of numerous, not-for-profit groups and was the 2002 campaign chair for the Winnipeg United Way Campaign, which raised a record $13.8 million, and then served as president of the board of United Way. She continues to serve on the United Way’s Major Donor Cabinet and Advisory Council.

Asper has served as president of Manitoba Theatre Centre and co-chaired its successful $6-million capital campaign and $10-million endowment campaign. She served on the board of directors for the National Arts Centre Foundation as its Chair, and is a governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among numerous honours, Asper is the recipient of the YMCA/YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Voluntarism (2002); the Children’s Charity of Manitoba, Gold Heart Humanitarian of the Year Award (2004); and the Governor General’s Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts (2005). She is also a recipient of the Order of Manitoba and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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