Recently it was my privilege to attend the Olds College gala, along with many of my Wildrose colleagues. The gala is an occasion to celebrate and recognize the values that Olds College has represented for over 100 years in Alberta. It’s a gathering of those who have become supporters and partners in the success and legacy of the College.
Every year members of our caucus proudly support this worthy agricultural event. One of the highlights of this gala is the live auction of a steer, cut and wrapped through the meat-cutting course offered by Olds College. My colleagues and I were fortunate enough to pool our resources together, winning the bid. It was truly one of the highlights of the entire evening for all of us and we enjoyed our opportunity immensely.
The absolute peak of this evening was the generous donation of $16 million by Alberta entrepreneur, oil field industry leader, and dedicated philanthropist David P. Werklund and his partner, Sue Norman. This gift is historically unprecedented and is the largest ever personal donation to an Alberta college or technical institution. Their generosity begins with an initial $2 million cash donation, followed up by $4 million in a matching component.
Most importantly in order to ensure this great institution’s success and sustainability, he has provided for $10 million as a gift from his estate. This donation will result in the creation of the Werklund agriculture institute, which will specialize in smart agriculture. This institute will engage students, researchers, and industry in smart and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness solutions.
David Werklund is known throughout Canada for his innovative thinking and generosity that exemplifies the spirit of Alberta. David is a homegrown Alberta boy who grew up in the Grande Prairie-Smoky area of northern Alberta. In fact, my colleague’s family still owns and operates farmland in the area David grew up in. His ties to agriculture and the energy sector span many years and stretch across this entire province.
One of the greatest things about this province is the spirit and determination of the people that attracts so many seeking opportunities and a better way of life. It’s an intangible something that gives Alberta its uniqueness and surrounds us like an aura. The aura that surrounds us comes from the selflessness we see across Alberta on a daily basis and our compassion for those in need.
We tried unsuccessfully to convince David and Sue to attend the legislature so that we could formally recognize and acknowledge this significant act of generosity, but true to Albertan form they quietly declined.
David Werklund’s actions serve as a reminder of why this is one of the most sought after places in the world to reside. Opportunity, generosity and selflessness are all the qualities that have created the Alberta spirit that makes this one of the most sought after destinations for so many.
While they may not have been in the chamber to be honoured in person I would still like to acknowledge David P. Werklund and Susan Norman for their wonderful gift to Olds College.