Flame of generosity burned brightly at gala

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Jeannie Thomas and Guatemalan Ambassador Georges de La Roche watch the live art auction at a fundraiser hosted by artist Philip Craig and his wife, Diane, at their Glebe home and studio on Thursday, June 21, 2012, in support of HIPPY Ottawa. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Given last week’s heat wave, a wilting Around Town was almost reluctant to go to a gala whose theme was fire. Thankfully, the only thing burning bright at the Igniting the Spirit Gala was the flame of generosity.

A 600-person crowd attended Thursday’s dinner and cultural celebration at the Hampton Inn, with organizers hoping to bring in $200,000 for the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and its $15-million expansion. The new facility, located in Vanier and designed by Douglas Cardinal, will open mid-January.

The colour du jour was fiery red, worn by the likes of Sue O’Sullivan, Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, and Wabano’s executive director, Allison Fisher, who’s hoping the campaign gets continued support as it heads toward the finish. “This building is going to be the most positive thing that’s ever been done in Ottawa for aboriginal people,” she said.

The campaign has $5 million-plus to raise but professional fundraiser Susan Doyle, former CEO of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, has been hired on. “It’s such a great cause and the people involved are just so amazing,” said Doyle in a ballroom filled with 200 silent and live auction items. A Smart Car from Star Motors, a cross-country VIA Rail trip, First Air tickets to Iqaluit, a Pat Flesher Furs coat and a sculpture by artist David General were among the auction donations.

Supporters included philanthropist Shirley Greenberg and another well-known Shirley — developer Shirley Westeinde. Wabano fundraising volunteer Barbara Farber was there, as were Jeff Boyd, regional president of sponsor RBC, charity auctioneer Dave Smith, defence lawyer Ewan Lyttle, who does pro bono work at Wabano, and MPP Bob Chiarelli looking right at home in a teepee with Dennis Jackson.

HIPPY gets help

The number of Rockcliffe Park homes with Philip Craig paintings is up following a fundraiser the artist and his wife, Diane, hosted Thursday for supporters of HIPPY, a home-instruction program for preschool youngsters run through the Vanier Community Services Centre.

Craig collected 40 of his paintings with help from his art dealers, like the Terence Robert Gallery, and offered them up at very fair prices. He gave a portion of the sales back to the cause and donated a painting, sold off by Tom Clark of Global News to highest bidder Tazim Lal.

The benefit took place at the Craigs’ home studio in the Glebe. On hand was Maureen Boyd, a founding member of Friends of HIPPY, with Joanne Nelson, Wendy Bryans and Jeannie Thomas. Seen were author Charlotte Gray, Ottawa Hospital Foundation chairman Greg Kane and his wife, Adrian Burns, Guatemalan Ambassador Georges de La Roche, and U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson and his wife, Julie. They already owned a Philip Craig and were seen purchasing another.

A gift for Gould

Call it philanthropy or call it an “impulse purchase,” as Phil Taylor jokingly referred to his family’s substantial five-figure financial contribution to the National Arts Centre. The donation covered the costs of creating a permanent tribute exhibit of Glenn Gould’s famous Steinway piano, a musical gift from Library and Archives Canada.

Taylor and his wife, Eli, both formerly of Ottawa, were at the NAC for Wednesday’s unveiling with daughter Paulina, a student at the Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto. Her peers include mega-talent Jan Lisiecki, 17, who wowed everyone on the Steinway and then hung around to mingle (and give a friendly hug to Gryphon Trio cellist Roman Borys, artistic director of Chamberfest).

Taylor’s love for music was passed down to him by his late father, a classical music buff who grew up in the Prairies during the Depression. Taylor would go to sleep at night listening to his dad play the piano and was raised on stories about Gould. “I felt like Glenn Gould was a member of our family,” said Taylor.

When Taylor learned the NAC was looking for donors for the installation, he immediately offered his support, asserting: “This is Glenn Gould, for God’s sake.”

Attendees included Ruth Abernethy, the artist behind the Gould statue outside the CBC in T.O. and the Oscar Peterson statue outside the NAC; Ottawa-born filmmaker Peter Raymont, co-director of Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould; and NAC board chair Julia Foster and acting CEO Christopher Deacon.

Great spirit, ideas

On Tuesday, a business crowd got a sneak peak of Bridgehead’s new roastery as it played host venue to KPMG Enterprises’ book launch of That’ll Never Work: Business Lessons Learned from Successful Canadian Entrepreneurs.

Bridgehead, a fair trade coffeehouse chain that’s popped up in urban hoods throughout Ottawa, and Deslaurier Custom Cabinets are among the businesses profiled in the best-seller.

“One of the things I love about this book is that it’s everyday stories of everyday people who chose to go into business,” said Bridgehead principal Tracey Clark in the renovated building in Little Italy.

Guests were not only inspired but informed about business lessons learned by Deslaurier owners Jim Deslaurier and Denis Staples. The kitchen cabinet manufacturers recovered from a 2009 fire that would have killed their business if not for adequate insurance, strong community and professional relationships and their ability to spot opportunities in the rebuilding process.

“We’re silver-lining kind of guys,” Denis Staples told the crowd, which included his father, Ross.

There to MC was Denis Trottier, a partner at KPMG Enterprises. It specializes in working with owner-managed businesses. Also seen were KPMG managing partner Grant McDonald; Clark’s father, Councillor Peter Clark; and Mayor Jim Watson, who reminded everyone we’re more than a government town. “Beyond Parliament Hill and the government buildings is a very vibrant private sector filled with individuals with great spirit and ideas,” said Watson.

‘A bit more of Canada’

Over at the ritzy Rideau Club, bright minds in diplomatic and defence circles got together Monday for a reception hosted by the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI).

CDFAI is a non-partisan research think-tank based in Calgary and Ottawa and, since 2001, has been educating Canadians on the need for more proactive international policy. “The world needs a little bit more of Canada,” opined CDFAI president Robert Millar.

Present were some of CDFAIs advisory council members and/or senior research fellows, like CDFAI vice-president and former diplomat Colin Robertson, leading military historians David Bercuson and Jack Granatstein, former cabinet ministers John Manley and David Pratt, retired general Ray Henault, former ambassador Robert Fowler, and Denis Stairs, a specialist in Canadian defence and foreign policy.

Carolyn001@ sympatico.ca

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