Creating a safe place for everyone

The Winnipeg Foundation


Hilda Kerkham and Glenn D
Hilda Kerkham with her nephew, Glenn Duncan.

The relationship between Jayden Duncan-Nassie and his Great-Great-Aunt Hilda Kerkham was special.

According to 10-year-old Jayden, Auntie Hilda – who was 92 years his senior – was always happy to see him and made time for him no matter what.

“Her face would just light up, her frown would literally just bend the other direction,” Jayden says. “It made me feel pretty special to have someone care about me that much.”

That’s why Jayden felt it was important to give a eulogy at Mrs. Kerkham’s funeral last June, when he was just nine-years-old.

“I wanted to tell the world what she’d done [so she could be] a role model for people in the future,” he says.

He shared some of his favourite memories.

“When I was little, Auntie Hilda was stronger than me. She let me sit on her walker seat, then she pushed me for a ride to the elevator… When Auntie Hilda was almost 100-years-old and I was stronger than she was, I often pushed her wheelchair.”

Mrs. Kerkham was sharp until the end. A month before she passed away at the age of 101, she beat her nephew Glenn Duncan (Jayden’s grandfather) in a game of Scrabble. The word that put her over the top was “jinx.”

“I knew darn well I should not let her get close to those triple [word scores] because she always seemed to have a J or a Z up her sleeve. And sure enough she put that down and said, ‘Take that!’”

Mrs. Kerkham was born in 1913 in Markham, ON and moved to Winnipeg as a young girl. She grew up on Banning Street in the West End and was a lifelong member of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. She spent her summers at Lake Brereton and Lake of the Woods.

Mrs. Kerkham first worked with the Manitoba Cancer Relief and Research Institute. When the Manitoba Division of the Canadian Cancer Society was formed in 1952, she became Education Officer, a position she held until retirement.

“She always spoke very highly of her work – she really enjoyed it,” Mr. Duncan says. “In her job she travelled extensively in rural Manitoba, driving by herself to make presentations in various communities, giving out information about the dangers of smoking and cancer-related issues.”

She was a Life Member of the Manitoba Provincial Council of Women, and was particularly proud to have been a founding member of the Health Committee established to lobby for the banning of smoking in public places.

Mrs. Kerkham loved being active. She was an avid golfer and was honoured with a Life Membership at the Winnipeg Canoe Club. She also was a member of the Rossmere Golf and Country Club.

Mrs. Kerkham also enjoyed reading, painting and knitting. She knit 100s of hats and other items for charity, continuing to do so even after her 100th birthday.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband Algernon “Kerk” Kerkham.

According to Mr. Duncan, Hilda Kerkham was graceful and dignified until the very end.

“She had a lot of things against her laterally in terms of difficulty breathing, difficulty getting around, but through it all… she never had an unkind word to say,” Mr. Duncan says. “She was always bright and cheerful when you came to visit. She was very patient and easy going at the end.”

In her Will, Mrs. Kerkham included a bequest to The Winnipeg Foundation. She designated her gift to support the Winnipeg Humane Society and Camperships.

“Hilda was extremely conscious of animals in distress,” says Mr. Duncan, who was his Aunt’s Executor. “I suspect some of her feelings around children’s camps were the same – that children can’t control their own lives. And so her bequest would help give them a place and a sense of power and belonging.”

Mr. Duncan said his aunt likely thoroughly researched what to do with her money, and would have been confident in her decision to support her community through The Winnipeg Foundation.

“Hilda was very astute and she was a member of investment clubs. She would know and have opinions about how the money was distributed and what should happen, so The Winnipeg Foundation was an option that she trusted.”


Jayden Duncan-Nassie
Jayden Duncan-Nassie presents his Auntie Hilda’s gift to The Foundation.

Philanthropy is important to the family, and Mr. Duncan is ensuring his grandson understands why.

“It’s modeling a certain philosophy for the children. This philosophy is that you should reach out beyond yourself and your own immediate needs and look towards the larger community and how you can help the community.”

Jayden Duncan-Nassie presented his Auntie Hilda’s gift to The Foundation.

“The world isn’t a safe place until everyone has a safe place to be in,” Jayden says. “People in the world need help, not everyone in the world is fortunate to have the life my family has.”

Endowment funds at The Foundation

Interested in creating your own fund?

Hilda Kerkham created a Donor-Designated Fund.

This type of fund allows your chosen charitable organizations to receive your support forever. Mrs. Kerkham chose to support the Winnipeg Humane Society and Manitoba Camping Association's Sunshine Fund.

There are a range of different fund options for you to choose from, depending on what you’re interested in and how involved you want to be. Visit The Foundation’s Create Your Own Fund webpage for details!