The Calgary Petroleum Club was burning the midnight oil on June 6 as master of ceremonies Rick Mercer and special guest speaker Gen. Rick Hillier regaled a full house at the Newfoundland and Labrador Affinity Dinner in Calgary. The event was organized by Memorial alumni and friends living in the Calgary area with the reception sponsored by WestJet.
The 300-plus guests in attendance at this sold-out gala reception and dinner included members of the Calgary Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador honorary board – presidents and vice-presidents of national and international corporations with links to this province as well as alumni and friends of Memorial University. Also participating was Dr. Axel Meisen, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial.
“It is great to have an opportunity like this to meet so many interesting and inspiring people – many of whom were educated at Memorial – who have worked hard to achieve their success,” said Dr. Penny Blackwood, director of Alumni Affairs and Development at Memorial University. “Many of these individuals are alumni. They made a difference while attending Memorial; now they are making a difference in much larger spheres – the international arena – yet they remain committed to the university and its students.”
The proceeds raised during the evening – over $70,000 – will be used to support Memorial scholarships and bursaries. In addition to ticket sales, a silent auction was held with attractions such as the Rick Mercer Report Package – tickets to a live taping of the Rick Mercer Report in Toronto plus airfare and accommodations, which was awarded to the highest bidder at $7,500; and the Gen. Rick Hillier Dinner – a private dining experience with General and Mrs. Hillier in Ottawa including airfare and accommodations; the highest bid for this package was $10,000. Other packages included Escape with WestJet, Calgary Flames Hockey in Newfoundland, and the 1998 Summer of Karmann Ghia lithograph by Christopher Pratt, which sold for $6,000.
As part of the Gen. Rick Hillier dinner auction package, Gen. Hillier donated his soldier’s helmet, which has travelled to exotic locations such as Bosnia, Poland and Afghanistan, where it was almost pierced by shrapnel. Another highlight of the evening was the impromptu agreement – during the dinner – between Rick Mercer and Sean Durfy, president of WestJet, to provide a second Rick Mercer Report auction package.
“This type of initiative demonstrates a true and strong commitment to this province as well as Memorial University and its students – students who will lead us into the future,” said Dr. Blackwood. “The event would not have succeeded without the dedication of the organizing committee, chaired by Keith Wellon of Superior Propane; the many supporters and sponsors, including Gold Sponsors Husky Energy and Talisman Energy and media sponsors CBC Television and the Calgary Herald; the honorary board members; and the committed staff at Alumni Affairs and Development.”
Similar Newfoundland and Labrador Affinity Dinners are scheduled for Toronto and Ottawa during November of this year and are being planned for Halifax and Vancouver in the future.