"When we started fundraising six years ago we had nothing – no building, no programming, and no patrons or alumni to form our donor base," said National Campaign Chair Gail Asper, O.C., O.M.
"But thankfully, there were many extraordinary Canadians who shared our dream and lent their support to help it grow. Hundreds of people volunteered their time, wrote letters of support, and helped us open doors. And so far, we can look to 5,000 donors whom we count as our friends. It is thanks to their confidence in our vision that we are here today.
"And we know that none of this would be possible without the visionary support of the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada, which has shown incredible foresight in creating this as the first national museum outside of Ottawa."
Asper's father, CanWest Global Communications founder Israel (Izzy) Asper, O.C., O.M., first announced the idea for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in April 2003. After his untimely death in October 2003, Gail Asper and Asper Foundation Executive Director Moe Levy took on the leadership of Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to carry Israel Asper's dream forward.
Before the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was created as a national museum, Friends undertook extensive business planning, fundraising and development activities for its establishment and is spearheading the Capital Campaign to raise the private sector contribution.
Inflation, environmental building upgrades and escalating construction costs in Manitoba have had a significant impact on the project budget since it was developed two-and-a-half years ago.
Last May, the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights asked Friends to raise an additional $45 million from the public and private sectors to offset these increases.
"When the Museum's Board of Trustees asked the Friends to continue the fundraising campaign, we were confident that Canadians would continue to show strong support for this project," said Arni Thorsteinson, Chair of the Museum's Board of Trustees.
"The level of private sector and government support speaks to the power of Izzy's initial vision."
Construction on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has begun, and the Museum is anticipated to open in 2012.
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