5th Annual ‘I Heart UWinnipeg’ Dinner Raises More Than $240,000

WINNIPEG, MB – More than $240,000 was raised for The University of Winnipeg’s Opportunity Fund at the 2014 I Heart UWinnipeg dinner on May 21, 2014, the last fundraising dinner before Dr. Lloyd Axworthy retires as President and Vice-Chancellor. At the dinner an Opportunity Fund bursary was established in the name of Dr. Axworthy and his wife Ms. Denise Ommanney, to honour their longstanding commitment to ensuring post-secondary education is accessible for those facing barriers, including students from Indigenous, refugee and immigrant, and inner-city communities, and youth raised in the child welfare system.

Since 2007, the Opportunity Fund has awarded more than 1,500 fast-track bursaries and 238 recipients have graduated, a number that will grow with convocation next month. Some of those students described the personal impact of the Opportunity Fund, in a video shown to guests at the sold-out dinner. The video, titled “Making A Difference: Opportunity Fund Stories” can be viewed online.

“What makes the Opportunity Fund unique is the flexibility it provides to students in need,” explained UWinnipeg’s Chancellor Mr. Bob Silver, who together with his wife, Mrs. Kim Silver, added to their generous previous donations by pledging an additional $50,000 at the dinner. “There are many reasons why low-income students do not attend university. In addition to tuition and textbooks, this fund also helps students cope with related costs not covered by traditional bursaries, including the little life emergencies that sometimes arise and shouldn’t mean the end of an educational dream.”

Following the Silvers’ pledge they announced a challenge to the audience, and OmniTRAX Canada President Mr. Merv Tweed matched the $50,000 pledge. “I’m honoured to meet the challenge,” said Tweed. “The Opportunity Fund is a very deserving cause, because everyone should have the opportunity to improve their lives through education – that’s how we’ll create a more equitable Manitoba where everyone has the chance to succeed.”

Generous supporters of the University, Dr. John and Mrs. Bonnie Buhler, topped off the evening with a $50,000 pledge of their own to the new Opportunity Fund bursary in Dr. Axworthy and Ms. Ommanney’s name. “Improving education for Manitobans has become one of our deepest passions,” said Dr. Buhler. Mrs. Buhler added, “We want to help make sure no one misses out on a chance to improve their life through education, and we are already seeing the impact of the Opportunity Fund in our community and our province.”

“Denise and I are deeply grateful for all of the generous donations, and for the support the Opportunity Fund is receiving,” said Dr. Axworthy.  He also expressed gratitude to UWinnipeg’s partners in the dinner: gold sponsors Bee-Clean and ManShield Construction, silver sponsors Hub International Insurance Brokers and Consultants, D’Arcy & Deacon LLP, media sponsors Winnipeg Free Press, Jewel 101, CKJS AM 810, Energy 106, and chocolate sponsors Mordens’ of Winnipeg.

At the dinner Mr. Mike Cavell, Chair of the Platinum Jets, announced a $10,000 donation that will establish the Platinum Jets Opportunity Fund bursary.  Many of the members of the charitable organization are alumni of The University of Winnipeg who grew up in the North End of Winnipeg, and they want to help students in need and recognize the University’s role in the formation of the Platinum Jets.

UWinnipeg thanks everyone who purchased tickets to the dinner, and extends a special thank you to the corporate sponsors for their generous support: Aboriginal Education Directorate, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, Aurora Recovery Centre, Boom Done Next, Canad Inns, City of Winnipeg, Coca Cola Refreshments, Dakota Ojibway Health Services, Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council, General Child and Family Service Authority, Great-West Life, Jobs and the Economy Apprenticeship Manitoba, Manitoba Metis Federation, Norway House Cree Nation, Number Ten Architectural Group, OmniTRAX Canada, Platinum Jets Inc., ReSolve Group, Seven Oaks School Division, Sorrento’s, Taylor McCaffrey LLP, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP and Winnipeg Police Association.

Background – Opportunity Fund

The University of Winnipeg is committed to helping youth dream big and to eliminating financial barriers to our University. Unique in Canada, the Opportunity Fund was established under the leadership of Dr. Axworthy in 2007 to offer financial support to Indigenous students, young people from war-affected areas and refugee populations, and youth from inner-city neighbourhoods through fast-track bursaries, tuition credits, and tuition waivers for youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

To donate to the Opportunity Fund, please contact the University of Winnipeg Foundation at 204.786.9995 or toll free at 1.866.394.6050, or visit: www.uwinnipegfoundation.ca

For information on applying to the Opportunity Fund, please contact the University’s Awards Office at 204.779.8946 or visit uwinnipeg.ca/opportunity-fund.

 – 30 –

The University of Winnipeg is noted for academic excellence, small class sizes, environmental commitment, campus diversity, Indigenous scholarship, and support of cultural arts. UWinnipeg is strongly committed to promoting access and inclusion, and  is ranked 4th in Canada for reputation by Maclean’s (2013). Find out more at uwinnipeg.ca. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Megan Benedictson, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7129, E: me.benedictson@uwinnipeg.ca


Comments are closed.