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“Keeping her fatherís legacy aliveĒ

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 children.

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

Next week the story of a young business leader who enjoys family games.
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