Gail Asper is an achiever. It's in her genes
to achieve. Her father was Israel "Izzy" Asper, who when he
died suddenly in 2003 had become one of Canada's most successful and
best-known business leaders. His media empire, CanWest Global
Communications, spanned several continents.
At the time of his death he was working
exhaustively on his volunteer project ó the Canadian Museum for
Human Rights, a $311-million learning centre to be located on 17
acres in Winnipeg. He kick-started the fundraising campaign with a
$20-million donation. Some thought his death might end the project.
That is where this story begins.
His daughter Gail took over the project. A
lawyer by profession, she articled in Halifax, where she practiced
corporate and commercial law for five years. She is married with two
Gail knew how much the museum meant to her
father, the people of Winnipeg, the people of Canada, and students
from around the world who will come to Winnipeg to study at this
world-class learning centre. It will be the largest human rights
centre in the world, with special focus on equipping and educating
young people to become human rights leaders and advocates.
"Dick, over the years I have become aware
of how little we know about Canadian history and our human rights
achievements. Living in Halifax I learned about the Acadian
expulsion and black slavery. I've been interested in women's rights
through my involvement with LEAF [the Legal Education and Action
Fund]. Itís time that we built a Canadian centre that told our
stories and provided a home for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
When you read her bio you quickly understand
that Gail Asper is an achiever accustomed to overcoming seemingly
impossible challenges. Her advice to others facing a challenge: "Be
realistic. Remember to have as much fun as possible on the journey
because it may be a while before you get to the destination ...
Surround yourself with POSITIVE but realistic people"
The Museum is due to open in 2010. How will
she feel when the ribbon is cut? "Really relieved! But I know there will be thousands of things to
keep working on. The ribbon-cutting will just be the beginning of
the next phase."
Learn more about Gail Asper and the Canadian
Museum for Human Rights at