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How to really save Library and Archives Canada

Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, England.

Several days ago I learned about an extraordinary program called the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. According to the website, each year thousands of secondary school students participate in the initiative, the signature program of the Toskan Casale Foundation. Since 2002 at Royal St. George’s College in Toronto, YPI has engaged hundreds of schools worldwide, across Canada, United States, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

It’s mission is to provide secondary school students with real, hands-on experience through a course which gives them the skills to assess the needs of their community and make grants to grassroots, community based charities that meet these needs. The course empowers young people to participate in the development of their communities, engaging them as dedicated problem solvers and volunteers. The initiative “promotes a sense of responsibility, respect and a commitment to building compassionate communities”.

During the past ten years YPI has granted over $6 million in funding across Canada alone, and continues to grant approximately $1 million  each year on behalf of participating YPI students.

This smart minded, successful private sector largesse got me to thinking about…yes, Library and Archives Canada.

I can’t think of a better time or place for a rich family looking to unleash some love on the country, to step forward and save the organization. It would have to be a big gift,  in the range of say $100 – 300 million. Lilly/Poetry Foundation territory. Such a gift would best have strings attached to it: strictly for the acquisition, and contextualized presentation to Canadians and the world of original source documents and materials.

Given the gaping holes that currently exist in these areas of responsibility and the absence of any decent physical exhibition spaces or public programming in Ottawa or across Canada, filling such needs would guarantee whomever decided to meet them,  not only with the deep gratitude of most thinking Canadians, but also significant, tangible recognition – immortality you even might say – in the form of named buildings and collections, monuments even, for example – and the knowledge that this contribution will go far toward doing something for Canada that is incalculably important: rescuing its collective memory from oblivion.

Pretty good way to be remembered I’d say.

Here are some possible candidates courtesy of Forbes magazine:

David Thomson and family ranks 35th globally, with their fortune of $17.5-billion

Galen Weston and family, worth $7.6-billion

James and Arthur Irving. The East Coast oil and paper magnates are worth $5-billion

Paul Desmarais worth $4.3-billion

Jim Pattison worth $4.3-billion

Emanuele (Lino) Saputo worth $3.7-billion

Bernard (Barry) Sherman worth $3.7-billion

Clayton Riddell worth $3-billion

David Azrieli & family worth $2.9-billion

Lululemon’s Chip Wilson worth $2.9-billion

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte worth $2.6-billion

Robert Miller worth $2.5-billion

 Charles Bronfman worth $2-billion

Carlo Fidani worth $2-billion

Daryl Katz worth $2-billion

Lawrence Stroll worth $1.8-billion

Pharmacy king Jean Coutu worth $1.6-billion

N. Murray Edwards worth $1.6-billion

Money manager Stephen Jarislowsky worth $1.6-billion

Goldhar Mitchell worth $1.5-billion

David Cheriton worth $1.3-billion

Ronald Southern worth $1.2-billion

Magna International’s Frank Stronach worth $1.2-billion

Asset manager Eric Sprott worth $1.1-billion

Gerald Schwartz worth $1-billion

And a few more from Wikipedia:

Ted Rogers lll worth $5.94 billion

Jeffrey Skoll worth $3.75 billion

Fred and Ron Mannix worth $3.44 billion

Bernard Sherman worth $3.31 billion

James Armstrong Richardson and family worth $3.01 billion

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