Supporting your passions while working together

Photo: Gracie Herntier. Credit: Courtesy of Ana and Tony Herntier


The power of a community foundation is it allows citizens to work together to make a greater difference. The Foundation has always appreciated that each donor has their own passions, and offers giving options to realize those individual interests.

Almost since its beginning The Foundation has ensured donors can support their favourite charity in perpetuity. The first Designated Fund in support of a specific charity was started in 1925 by Mr. A. R. McNichol. Born in Canada, he came to Manitoba to enter the real estate and insurance business. He became a General Manager with the Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association of New York before returning to Winnipeg to establish the firm of A.R. McNichol.

A bachelor, he lived in the Fort Garry Hotel and supported many charitable activities during his lifetime. His fund was designated to support three organizations: Knowles Centre, Victorian Order of Nurses, and Margaret Scott Nursing Mission. Mr. A. R. McNichol passed away in 1931.

The Foundation is a 360-degree funder, which means it supports charities working in all Cause areas. You can support your favourite charities, no matter what kind of work they do.

Dr. F. L. Skinner, M.B.E. was a famous plant breeder from Dropmore, Man. He is credited with creating a number of hybrid plants, and was especially successful with disease resistant trees and fruit trees.40 The Skinner Memorial Library at the University of Manitoba was named in his honour. After his passing in 1967, his friends established the Skinner Memorial Library Fund in 1971, which supports the purchase of books, magazines and films for the University of Manitoba.41

H. N. Bernstein loved golf and served as president of the Glendale Golf and Country Club in 1952.42 After his passing in 1972, the H. N. Bernstein Memorial Fund was established by Mr. Bernstein’s friends to perpetuate his interest in golfing. The annual income is used by the Manitoba Golf Association to assist promising young golfers to get more training.43

Gracie Herntier had wisdom and maturity that belied her seven years. Friendly and curious, she was able to connect with everyone she met, no matter their age. Gracie was also a happy-go-lucky kid who loved music and dancing, nature, making people laugh, and playing with her three dogs. She passed away unexpectedly in 2013, leaving family, friends, classmates and her entire community devastated. In her memory, the Gracie Herntier Fund supports the School of Contemporary Dancers and Manitoba Theatre for Young People, helping those organizations carry on activities Gracie loved.

The Foundation also offers the opportunity to support an area of work, rather than a specific charity. The first Field of Interest Fund was established in 1959 by Herbert M. Tucker. The fund continues to benefit summer camps and recreation programs for children.

Matthew Frost also had a special love of all sports – hockey in particular. In 2001, he got his dream job in the media relations department of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthew was a graduate of the University of Manitoba in both Political Studies and Recreation Studies. He had recently been accepted into the Master of Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario and had plans to embark on a career in sports journalism when he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in June 2005, at the age of 33.

The Matthew Frost Sports Fund has supported a variety of sports-related Causes.

It has helped young patients at Children’s Hospital to attend professional sports events. It has provided grants to youth serving organizations to enable less advantaged children to attend summer sports camp. And it also provides annual educational awards to Recreation students at the University of Manitoba.

Born deaf, Nicholette Vlassie was a strong, determined woman who wouldn’t let anything get in her way of pursuing a job, a great idea, or her passions for painting and photography. Originally from Winnipeg, Nicki learned to speak and lip-read as a child at a school for the deaf in St. Louis, Mo. When the Manitoba School for the Deaf opened in Winnipeg in the mid-1960s, Nicki moved home and learned sign language. Her dual communication skills enabled her to interact with both the deaf and hearing communities in her work and social life. Following her passing in 2007, family and friends established the Nicholette Vlassie Memorial Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation. As a tribute to the challenges Nicki faced as a deaf person, and in recognition of the tremendous support she received from the local deaf community, the fund supports education, recreation and employment programs that benefit deaf children and adults.44

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