by Todd Lewys
Five years ago, REALTORS® across Manitoba came up with an ambitious goal.
To donate $2 million to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
With the goal now realized, Sheldon Zamick, national chair of the REALTOR® campaign, said it took a team effort.
“Although the campaign started here in Winnipeg, donations came not only from REALTORS® and various organizations in Manitoba, but also from across the country,” he said. “Every contribution was appreciated. Raising $2 million for the CMHR is an accomplishment that REALTORS® from all over Canada, the U.S. and even the world can be proud of.”
That said, he added that a great deal of effort was needed to meet that goal. “From my standpoint,” said Zamick, “I told REALTORS® that contributing to the campaign was an opportunity of a lifetime, that we could show people how involved we are in communities across the country by supporting a project that would be a major hub for human rights activity, and that would be the most comprehensive centre of its kind in the world.
“As the campaign progressed, the buy-in across the board was amazing,” he added.
When the campaign deadline neared in the spring this year, it was about $50,000 shy of the coveted $2 million mark. That’s when Harry DeLeeuw, past president of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Brian M. Collie, CEO of the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) stepped up their efforts to ensure the goal was met.
“Even though I was involved from the beginning, I got more involved as things got closer to the fund-raising deadline,” said DeLeeuw. “I have a fair number of contacts across the country and made lots of calls, telling people that not only is the building that houses the CMHR a wonderful, state-of-the-art home, but more important is that it houses a centre that will make people more aware of human rights issues, and will put Winnipeg on the human rights map.”
He said that Collie’s passion for the CMHR also came to the fore in the latter days of the campaign. “Brian made an impassioned speech in Ottawa (at a CREA meeting) that raised $35,000 or $40,000 in 45 minutes,” he said. “When you explain what the museum is going to do, as Brian did so well, it’s not a tough sell.”
Zamick said that thanks to Collie’s efforts — and a $10,000 contribution from Rancho Realty — the $2 million goal has been realized.
“Harry and Brian really helped in the last six months or so of the campaign,” he said. “It was a lot of work for everyone involved, but we as REALTORS® came together to accomplish it. The goal was ultimately accomplished because everyone believed so passionately in the museum’s purpose.”
Their efforts will be commemorated when the CMHR officially opens its doors in September 2014. REALTORS® will be recognized in the form of a plaque facing Israel Asper Way, which leads visitors toward the entrance of the museum.
DeLeeuw said that it’s a fitting gesture, as the REALTORS®’ philosophy meshes perfectly with the CMHR’s.
“The purpose of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights aligns with our profession’s philosophy that we are here to improve the quality of life for all people,” he said. “The right to own property and live safely in our communities is at the heart of so many human rights conversations among us. That’s why we’re all so passionate about the CMHR as REALTORS®.”
“When we commenced the campaign to support the museum, we said it would be a legacy like no other,” added WinnipegREALTORS® director of public affairs, Peter Squire. “As we get closer to the museum’s opening in September, I believe more Manitobans and Canadians will agree with that message.”
Gail Asper, national campaign chair for the Friends of the CMHR, said the REALTORS®’ efforts are much-appreciated.
“We’re so excited that REALTORS® came together from not only across Manitoba, but from all corners of Canada and beyond to show their support for human rights education, dialogue and action. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was for our hardworking campaign team to watch with amazement and gratitude as the cheques flowed in from this remarkable campaign,” she added.