No one has a right to consume happiness without producing it.”

-Hellen Keller

Gail Asper

2005 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

Gail Asper is one of Winnipeg's most dedicated volunteers, fervent arts advocates, persuasive fundraisers, and compassionate community leaders. She has donated countless hours to arts-related causes, particularly the Manitoba Theatre Centre, where she co chaired a capital campaign that raised over $7 million and is co-chairing the theatre's successful $10-million endowment campaign. She is a Board member and Vice-Chair of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada. Other volunteer affiliations include the Arts and Cultural Enhancement Initiative, aimed at increasing municipal and provincial support for the arts, the University of Waterloo's Centre for Cultural Management, the National Arts Centre Foundation, Prairie Theatre Exchange, and the United Way of Winnipeg. Ms. Asper was also a founding member of Manitoba's Arts Stabilization program.

Ms. Asper was born in Winnipeg in 1960 and obtained her law degree from the University of Manitoba in 1984. She is currently a director and corporate secretary of CanWest Global Communications Corp., where she was instrumental in creating the "Raise a Reader" national literacy program. She is also president of the CanWest Global Foundation and managing director and secretary of The Asper Foundation, the private charitable foundation spearheading the establishment of the $300 million Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

"I have profound respect for creators," she says. "I think it's our job to help execute their visions. When someone has gone through the trouble to dream, we shouldn't just sit back. We should roll up our sleeves and make it happen."

Gail Asper's awards and honours include the inaugural Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Award for Outstanding Community Leadership, the Max Nathanson Young Leadership Award, the YMCA/YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Voluntarism, and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.