Letter to the Editor: Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre deserves more

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During my thirty years in the philanthropic sector, I encouraged charitable agencies of all kinds to establish endowments as a reliable source of income. So, I was pleased when the province announced the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program. Over the next 3 years it will make $5 million available to help museums build endowments via their local community foundations, many of which I was pleased to help establish since the early 1990s.
Recently, two provincial cabinet ministers visited Morden to deliver $10,000 for the endowment of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. It will be held at the Morden Area Foundation. Your edition of January 24 covered this happy event.
The CFDC is one of the two most outstanding museums of natural history in Canada. The other is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta. Unlike Tyrrell, however, the CFDC’s home is inadequate in the context of its fossil collection. The collection of “aquasaurs” is acknowledged by scholars to be among the world’s most valuable. That collection deserves a building to match its uniqueness. Context is important.
Here is a different type of context: In the last few years the Province of Manitoba has made the following grants to Winnipeg museums: Canadian Museum of Human Rights, $40 million; Journey to Churchill, $34 million; Diversity Gardens, $15 million; Inuit Art Centre, $15 million and the Western Canadian Aviation Museum, $10 million. Furthermore, it is destined to be a multi-million dollar funder of the coming major changes at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
This funding anomaly does not punish just the CFDC. Rural and northern Manitoba has several outstanding museums that have their collective faces pressed up to the window as Winnipeg museums gather their bumper harvest of tax dollars.
The next time that two cabinet ministers peer through Bruce’s jaws on the front page of your newspaper I hope that they have delivered a cheque commensurate with the size of that creature. Then the CFDC can have a home that will be as good as the Winnipeg agencies listed above.

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