The Asper Foundation

Organisation profile

The Asper Foundation

The Asper Foundation was developed in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1983 to build upon the philanthropic objectives of Dr. Israel Asper and the Asper family. The Asper family was the founding family of CanWest Global Communications Corp. As well, when it was active, corporate philanthropy was carried out by the Asper family through the CanWest Global Communications Charitable Foundation. Both foundations have already undertaken and developed major initiatives in the areas of culture, education, community development and human rights locally, nationally and internationally. In the recent past, over $125 million has been donated to various charitable causes through these foundations.

In April 2003, The Asper Foundation in joint partnership with the Government of Canada, Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg and the Forks North Portage Partnership announced the establishment of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg (see The Museum was inspired and motivated by the extraordinary impact of The Asper Foundation Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program noted below. The vision of Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the registered charity leading the fundraising efforts for the Museum, is to create a distinctive, architecturally exceptional Museum that will help to eliminate intolerance through recognition of human rights as the foundation for human equality, dignity, and freedom worldwide.

In April, 2007, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights made groundbreaking history when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that this museum would be a federal institution – the first national museum created in Canada since 1967 and the first national museum to be located outside the National Capital Area. The museum was later established as a national museum in March, 2008. Construction began spring 2009 and the museum opened  Septembr 20, 2014. The mandate of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection, dialogue and action. The Asper Foundation’s Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program may evolve and be expanded in the coming years to integrate the experience of this exciting, new national museum. A national student program is envisioned with the resources to sponsor tens of thousands of high school students and their chaperones from across Canada to visit the museum each year.

The Asper Foundation is particularly proud of its Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program (see The program objectives are to promote respect and sensitize Canadian grade-nine age high school students to the consequences of racism through a specially designed education program.  Since the program’s inception in 1997, almost 13,000 high school students and chaperones in 204 cities spanning twelve provinces and territories across Canada have participated in this initiative.

Other major Winnipeg projects supported by The Asper Foundation in the last few years have been $10 million donations to each of the Winnipeg Foundation and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and developments including the I.H. Asper Clinical Research Institute at St. Boniface Hospital, I.H. Asper School of Business, the Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Lyric outdoor theatre at Assiniboine Park, the Asper Helping Hand Initiative, The Izzy Asper Jazz Performances Series, The Asper Foundation Performances: Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival as well as the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba (formerly the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship).

Projects supported in Israel by The Asper Foundation include the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre, the Asper International Holocaust Studies Program at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Winnipeg Community Action Centre in Beer-Sheva, The Israel Asper Community Action Centres in Ofaqim, Migdal Ha’emek and Ramot, the Asper Institute for New Media Diplomacy at the Inter Disciplinary Centre, Herzliya, Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship Program and the Edible Garden Program.

In addition, The Asper Foundation is working on a number of significant world-scale initiatives requiring several million dollars in up-front commitments.