Heather and Ian Bourne are longtime patrons of the arts, with a storied history of philanthropic support in Calgary and throughout Canada. With their recent Giving Day gift to the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH), their tradition continues.
Thanks to their gift, the graduate student fellowship at the CIH is secure and self-sustainable. Graduate fellows receive a boost in funding and an office at the CIH, which enables them to focus on their research and collaborate with distinguished interdisciplinary scholars as equals — with opportunities for mentorship, interactive workshops and the passionate exchange of ideas.
As one of the oldest humanities institutes in Canada, the CIH contributes to the public good by supporting innovative research to improve lives and communities. It’s been able to do so by hosting scholars in residence, such as the graduate student fellow, and through collaborative transdisciplinary projects — which is what makes it a worthwhile investment for the Bournes.
“Attitudes today are often polarized and people are unable to have polite, considered and knowledgeable discourse without picking sides. It’s a problem in politics, business and in the world generally,” says Heather, who was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work with Honens.
I think the institute demonstrates the value of looking at topics from different perspectives with the understanding that you may see something differently for having listened to someone else’s point of view.
Adds Ian, current chairman of Teine Energy and former chairman of Ballard Power and SNC-Lavalin: “I’ve spent the majority of my career in the corporate world, so branching into areas that are not conventionally thought about as being part of corporate Canada is also appealing.”
It’s part of their philanthropic rationale. “We donate to initiatives that others might not be as attracted to because they might not be particularly high profile, and the CIH fit our criteria in that it would make a difference,” Ian says.
The donation is an example of the wide-ranging impact of Giving Day gifts at UCalgary. The annual campaign, which runs until April 27, brings together thousands of community members whose collective impact drives critical research, exceptional student experiences, innovative programming and more at UCalgary.
CIH director Dr. Jim Ellis, PhD, appreciates the support, especially during Giving Day when eligible gifts are matched, up to $2,500 per gift, while matching funds last.
“Philanthropy has brought us security and has also allowed us to increase the programming that we offer. I’m very grateful to [the Bournes] for investing in humanities scholarship and recognizing the value of the humanities to culture and society at large,” says Ellis.