Winnipeg Foundation willed record $500 million on Giving Tuesday

The Winnipeg Foundation's Tom Bryk announces the gift. YouTube / The Winnipeg Foundation

This Giving Tuesday will be a memorable one for the Winnipeg Foundation, which received the largest gift ever made to a Canadian charity — a whopping $500-million donation of assets from a late local business owner.

Miriam Bergen, who died in January, left the money to the foundation in her will.

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Bergen was owner and president of Appleton Holdings, a privately held company that carries on business as Edison Properties. Her gift to the foundation includes the shares of Appleton.

The foundation, which distributes grants to organizations across the city, called the unrestricted bequest a “transformational gift.”

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“Here is another example of how the people of Manitoba are the most generous in the country,” foundation board chair Tom Bryk said in a statement.

“Miriam Bergen and her family have left an incredible legacy that will have a positive impact for generations to come and we thank them, from the bottom of our hearts.

“We anticipate when the gift is fully realized, it will provide significant additional resources into the community annually.”

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The foundation said it was first contacted by Bergen several years before her death to discuss options and has been working with the executors of her estate to facilitate the gift.

Bergen’s cousin, Doris Gietz, said Bergen shunned the spotlight, but would have been happy to see her wishes being honoured.

“Giving to community organizations was a big part of how Miriam showed she cared about people,” Gietz said.

“Most of her giving was anonymous because it was the act of giving, not the recognition, that inspired her.

“However, I feel it is important for the community to know about this gift because it will make such a difference. It is the culmination of her quiet, lifelong generosity and will be the Bergens’ legacy.”

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Winnipeg woman awarded $20,000 for her non-profit organization

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