Gail Asper, LL.D., October 30, 2008

Gail Asper
O.C.; O.M.; B.A., LL.B.(Man.)

Today, we honour Gail S. Asper, O.C., O.M., a distinguished alumna of the University of Manitoba. She is recognized in Canada for her exceptional record of achievement through a wide variety of leadership positions in business, community affairs and philanthropy. To each endeavour, she brings immeasurable enthusiasm and commitment, and unabashed pride in her home province. Ms Asper has a rare combination of intellect, compassion and humour together with the deepest of convictions.

Ms Asper received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1984, both from the University of Manitoba. She was called to the Bar of Nova Scotia in 1985 and then practised corporate and commercial law in Halifax, Nova Scotia until 1989.

In business, Ms Asper contributes enormously to the success of Canwest Global, one of the jewels in Canadas corporate community. Ms Asper joined Canwest Global Communications Corp. in 1989 as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. She has served as a Director of the company since 1991 and, until January 2008, was also the company's Corporate Secretary. Ms Asper is currently President of the Canwest Foundation. From 1998 to 2008, Ms Asper served on the Boards of Directors of several members of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies and she is a member of the Manitoba Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association, as well as LEAF (Legal Education and Action Fund) and Canadian Women in Communications.

Gail Asper serves as President, and is a Trustee, of The Asper Foundation, a private charitable foundation, which has been at the forefront of the creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The museum will be a world-class facility and will bring visitors from around the world to Winnipeg, and Ms Asper was recently appointed to its Board of Trustees.

Ms Asper has successfully led several fundraising projects that have touched many Manitobans serving as Co-Chair of the Manitoba Theatre Centre's $10 million Endowment Campaign, and having served for several years on the Board and as the President of the MTC. At the United Way of Winnipeg, she was the 2002 Campaign Chair and is a past Chair of the Board of Directors.

A dedicated volunteer, Ms Asper has given generously of her time and expertise to make a difference in the community. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Arts Centre Foundation and is Vice Chair of Business for the Arts. Ms Asper serves on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a Director Emerita of the Centre for Cultural Management at the University of Waterloo. Many other boards have benefitted from her considerable energies and talents including the Canadian Institute for International Affairs, the Manitoba Arts Stabilization Board, the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation, Winnipeg Jewish Child and Family Service and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

Ms Asper's tremendous humanitarian and volunteer contributions, and her commitment to Canada's vibrant arts community, have been recognized with numerous awards, including the inaugural Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Award for Outstanding Community Leadership, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the YMCA/YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Voluntarism, the Variety Club's Gold Heart Humanitarian of the Year Award, and the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community - Individual.

More recently, Ms Asper received the Governor-General's Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts in 2005 and an honorary diploma from Red River College in 2006. In 2008, she was honoured with the University of Ottawa's Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award.

In recognition of her achievements and her contributions to the province, Ms Asper was made a member of the Order of Manitoba in 2007 and she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

Ms Gail S. Asper, O.C., O.M., is a loyal and dedicated graduate of the University of Manitoba who has distinguished herself through her commitment to her alma mater and her home province, to the arts and to advancing human rights. Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to ask in the name of the Senate of the University of Manitoba, that you confer upon Gail S. Asper, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.