Autumn 2010
Making Canada Heard

Benefactor Peter Munk hopes school bearing his name will help transmit Canadian values around the world


Photo of Peter Munk Peter Munk’s storied life has itself been a global affair. Born into a Jewish family in Budapest 82 years ago, he fled the Nazis in 1944 and made his way to Canada by way of Switzerland. After an early stint as an impoverished tobacco-picker, Munk earned a degree in electrical engineering from U of T in 1952. His subsequent business career led him to the $40-million purchase of Barrick Gold in 1983; it is now the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, with a market capitalization of $35 billion.

Such wealth has enabled Munk to become what he calls a “focused philanthropist,” funding numerous causes that he ardently believes in. One of these is the school that bears his name. “I wanted to repay the U of T for taking me in as an immigrant student,” he says, speaking on the telephone (in true globalized fashion), from a yacht off the coast of Montenegro. “I spent five years there; when I arrived I hardly spoke the language, but I left as a total, absolute Canadian.”

Though he has lived and worked in Canada for many years, Munk never takes Canadian values for granted – he knows all too well that they are not universal. To his delight, however, “Canada is increasingly being held up as a prime example of a country that others should emulate,” he says proudly. “From freedom of the press, to our banking system, to policies on immigration, health care and education: for a whole bunch of reasons, Canada is now getting a chance to make its voice heard.”


Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Cecilia Lalisan on December 29th, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

Hello! I am Cecilia from British Columbia. My family migrated to Canada in 2009. My husband and I are both educators from the Philippines. It’s my dream and passion to belong to group of people serving the greater community for the common good. I do believe that families and children are the prime movers of society and they have to be given the best care and education to have brighter future.
I want to learn more and get involved with people involved in alleviating poverty and provide opportunities to make their life meaningful and growth promoting. It is not going to do any good to make them dependent on others. I believe in strengthening their inner capacities and develop their skills through education and self development.
I wonder if you can help me connect with people or with Mr. Munk’s foundation and suggest ways I can actively participate. Thank you very much!

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