Today the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, located at the Forks draws almost 300,000 visitors annually from across Canada and further afield. Yet a decade ago, it was just a dream. Izzy Asper’s vision and passion, and many hours of conversation, brought that dream to life. Those early conversations happened around the Asper boardroom table, which has now been gifted to The University of Winnipeg.
The table, which seats up to 15 people, was designed by Solomon Design and made by German Pastora, a local wood carver, in 1996. The base was carved from solid cherry to look like wheat sheaves. The table top is a mix of exotic woods — rosewood, cocobolo, cherry, African ebony — wrapped in leather and inlaid with brass. In 2003 the table was moved from 1063 Wellington to the Asper offices on the 15th floor of 201 Portage Avenue, and in 2018, was donated to UWinnipeg. Both moves required the table top to be removed from the base and both pieces craned in and out of a 15th floor window. It is now located on the third floor, Wesley Hall.
“This table was given to The University of Winnipeg in recognition of its deep commitment to human rights education,” said Gail Asper, President, The Asper Foundation. “It has served as The Asper Foundation’s Board table for 20 years and it was around this table where hundreds of meetings were held to make the vision for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights into reality. We hope it inspires many
more conversation that lead to the realization of a better world for all.”
UWinnipeg offers one of the only Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights in Western Canada, and was the first post-secondary institution in Manitoba to partner with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to offer a course (Emerging Issues in Human Rights). This relationship deepened in 2015 through a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two institutions. An innovative, immersive program is currently in development.
“The CMHR is an incredible educational resource in this city dedicated to developing awareness and human right leadership, and it is our privilege to honour its history and ethos here on campus,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “The positive and lasting impact of the Asper family reminds us that with tenacity, hard work and collaboration, all things are possible.”
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum located outside of Ottawa, and the first solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.
“The beautiful table located in this boardroom was a gift to The University of Winnipeg from The Asper Foundation, led by Gail Asper, President and Trustee.
The Asper family has a long and distinguished relationship with UWinnipeg, where several family members attended The Collegiate, located in Wesley Hall, and also pursued post-secondary studies. Leonard Asper was a founding member of The University of Winnipeg Foundation and received an honorary doctorate from UWinnipeg in 2009. Gail Asper received the University’s Duff Roblin Award in 2014 for her commitment to education and community. The campus facility for performance art and production was named the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, while the adjacent Babs Asper Lilac Garden was named in honour of family matriarch, Ruth “Babs” Asper.
The Asper family has supported countless initiatives in Winnipeg and beyond in the areas of arts and culture, community development, health care, and education — including creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a longtime vision of Israel (Izzy) Asper.
In the course of its history at The Asper Foundation, the boardroom table hosted discussion about Winnipeg’s potential as a center for human rights and beacon of progress and excellence in education. The table was given to The University of Winnipeg in recognition of its commitment to these same values, and so that it may continue to anchor dialogue and inspire those around it, leading to the realization of a better world.”
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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: firstname.lastname@example.org