From left, Gail Asper, MP Vic Toews, Former HudBay CEO Peter Jones, HudBay board member Lloyd Axworthy, and Premier Gary Doer.
WINNIPEG — HudBay Minerals Inc has contributed $1 million in honour of its 80th anniversary to the Canadian Museum For Human Rights.
A jubilant Gail Asper, the national chair of the museum who is spearheading its fundraising efforts, said, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of HudBay… We hope this gift will help inspire other donors to join the campaign.”
The seven-figure contribution from HudBay brings private sector donations up to $85 million for the $265-million project, which is now just $20 million short of its goal. Decision on a construction date will come once funding is in place, but the museum had previously been slated to open in 2010.
“I am very optimistic that we will be able to have the final $20 million committed in the next few months,” said Asper, whose late father, Izzy Asper, founder of CanWest Global Communications, came up with the idea for the museum. “Then the board of the museum, which the [federal] government will appoint, will have the assurance that it has the necessary funds to build the design that has been proposed.”
The museum will be Canada’s first federal museum devoted to human rights and the first federal museum outside of the national capital area. It is envisioned to be the largest human rights museum in the world, with a special focus on equipping young people to become human rights leaders and advocates.
Asper has previously said that April 2008 is her fundraising deadline, otherwise plans for the museum risk being downsized due to spiralling construction costs.
The $1-million cheque from HudBay was presented to Asper on Jan. 21 at Winnipeg’s Inn at the Forks.
At the presentation, Asper said the museum has entered a “crucial point” in its campaign and that it’s important to avoid complacency and to ensure every last gift comes in.
She said a meet-and-greet event that she co-hosted with Manitoba Premier Gary Doer in Toronto during Grey Cup week in November yielded some donations, which she said will be announced soon.
“We’ve been very busy and are thrilled with the national interest in the museum project. We’ve secured major gifts from other regions in the country outside of Manitoba,” she said.
HudBay CEO Peter Jones (who has since been replaced by Allen Palmiere) said, “The company made the contribution in recognition of its employees, past and present, who have been vital to HudBay’s success.”
He said the donation was “by far” the biggest single charitable contribution that the company has ever made.
HudBay is Canada’s third-largest producer of zinc and copper metal and the third-largest producer in North America of zinc oxide. It operates mines in North Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and owns a zinc oxide production facility in Ontario.
“Our company was built… with a spirit of exploration and perseverance. The museum will honour the same spirit of perseverance for human rights… We are thrilled to be part of this Canadian initiative,” Jones added.
Asper said she’s been receiving cheques of all sizes from Canadians of all walks of life in support of the project.
“We are getting gifts from people all across the country. More and more people are naming the museum as a charitable cause in honour of their birthday, their anniversary, their bar or bat mitzvah, or any other occasion,” she said.
“On a personal level, I find it incredibly energizing and inspiring to sign all of the tax receipts for donations we receive on a weekly basis, be they for $10 or $10,000 dollars… I love getting the $10 dollar gifts just as much as the $10,000 dollar gifts,” Asper added.
Other speakers at the presentation on Jan 21 included Doer, Manitoba’s senior federal minister Vic Toews and former federal Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy, who sits on HudBay’s Board.