Local golfers tee off to raise over $400k for Aga Khan Foundation Canada

A full slate of 144 golfers took a swing at global poverty last week and raised $407,550 at the Glendale Golf and Country Club. during the 19th annual World Partnership Golf Tournament (WPG).

Proceeds will go to support Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s development program in Africa and Asia, initiatives that help women and men lift their families out of poverty.

“Funds raised this year will help build and strengthen education and health-care systems in Central Asia and East Africa, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Pakistan,” said event co-chair and former Canadian deputy prime minister Anne McLellan.

“Now more than ever, Canadians are aware that concern for communities beyond our borders is a responsibility we share as global citizens.”

Dave Mowat, co-chair and ATB Financial president and CEO, said the camaraderie and generosity of the mixed group of players was heart-warming.

“Many local companies chipped in to ensure every cent raised goes to helping fight poverty in poor communities,” he added.

The Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is an international development organization and registered Canadian non-profit charity that tackles breaking the cycle of poverty on multiple fronts.

“Over the long term and working with local communities, we seek to improve the access to quality education and health,” said event chair Salim Chatur.

By also increasing food security and creating economic opportunities for men and women, the foundation strives to build strong, resilient communities.

“It’s no small challenge,” said Chatur. “Today, nearly 1.5 billion people still live in poverty without access to basic needs, such as reliable sources of food and water, quality education and health care.

“But we know change is possible and we can have hope because of well-supported campaigns such as our WPG.

“Since 1990, mortality rates of children under five have been reduced by 50 per cent and there are one billion fewer people now living in poverty than there were 25 years ago. Canadian support has been integral to this progress.”

WPG events are held annually in seven cities across Canada and have raised more than $14 million since 2000.

Businessman Sine Chadi, who helps many local charities by acting as auctioneer, sold an East African safari that included three game parks and four cities for $44,000 and attracted another $7,200 for a suite at an Edmonton Oilers game at Rogers Place.

A cash appeal raised $82,000 to help fund District Education Officers in Tanzania and Kenya.

“We hope this sustainable program will eventually impact more than 25 million people by improving teaching quality, materials and curriculum,” said event committee member Al Karim Hamir.

“The idea is to fund a bright, promising teacher in a rural area. The teacher becomes a district education officer and goes on to train more than 775 teachers in more effective methods that engage children and improve academic results. Each teacher then teaches more than 100 students.”

Richard Wong, one of Edmonton’s most popular businessman and community champions, is leaving July 12 to work for DHI Holdings Inc. on Vancouver Island.

The hotelier will serve as vice-president and CEO of subsidiary North Coast Hotel & Resort Company, whose portfolio includes Campbell River’s Painters Lodge, Quadra Island’s April Point, Port Hardy’s Quarter Deck, LPT in Kelowna and Richmond’s Abercorn.

“Edmonton will always be a very special place for my wife and I,” said Wong, who has resigned his post as executive vice-president of Nova Hotel’s 14 properties. “I came to Edmonton 14 years ago and leave a much better person.

“Therefore, I brand this city ‘the city of caring.’ I learned a valuable lesson here, that the size of your heart is more important than the size of your wallet.”

When Fijian-born Wong came to Edmonton looking to acquire a property for Sutton Place Hotels, he climbed out of a cab and immediately decided the former Four Seasons Hotel was it.

In 2003, he became the company’s general manager of its Edmonton hotel and quickly built an enviable network by helping countless business and charity organizations.

A glimpse of Wong’s quick-thinking was afforded me in October 2014 when I cheekily remarked to world featherweight boxing champion Jelena Mrdjenovich that it looked as if she had gained a few pounds.

Always in top shape and in a figure hugging full-length red wool dress, she said I needed my ears boxed.

Wong, then managing the Chateau Lacombe, overheard the conversation at a formal event, whipped out his calendar and offered a fight date.

He later catered dinner to a packed ballroom, helped two charities — and watched my being beaten up.

To name a few of Wong’s offices: he served as the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation chair, was an Edmonton Economic Development director and a board member of the Edmonton Police Foundation and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Winspear Centre.

He has also has served on NAIT, NorQuest College, Kids in the Hall, city tourism and Fort Edmonton boards and is past president of the Pilgrims Hospice Society and secretary of Edmonton’s 150th Birthday Celebrations Society.