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Recognizing one of Manitoba’s outstanding philanthropists:

Abdo (Albert) El Tassi

Albert El Tassi

Abdo El Tassi’s generosity has helped St-Boniface Hospital Foundation fund the purchase of a dedicated cardiac CT scanner. That’s kind of ironic, given that Mr. El Tassi’s relationship with the Foundation started with a bit of a technical glitch.

In November 2006, Mr. El Tassi was listening to the Foundation’s Radiothon and heard that the event was $25,000 away from its goal. He called in immediately, gave his name, and said he would cover the $25,000 shortfall. And then his phone battery died. Mr. El Tassi’s phone number was unlisted, but Foundation staff eventually tracked down family members who found him at home and told him that the Foundation was eager to meet him.

“A half hour later I was at the hospital with a cheque,” recalled Mr. El Tassi, CEO of Peerless Garments.

Since that day, Mr. El Tassi has been an enthusiastic supporter. The Foundation recognized Abdo El Tassi by nominating him as the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Outstanding Philanthropist for 2013, an award presented by the Manitoba Chapter of AFP. Mr. El Tassi accepted his award at National Philanthropy Day celebrations in November.

“Mr. El Tassi is a leader in every sense of the word,” said Foundation President and CEO, Chuck LaFlèche. “He exudes philanthropy, and we were proud to nominate him for this award.”

St-Boniface Hospital Foundation is not the only beneficiary of Mr. El Tassi’s exceptional generosity. He is widely recognized as a sincere, passionate donor eager to improve life in the community.

His philanthropy is inspired by his faith. A devout Muslim, Mr. El Tassi embraces the principle of “zakat,” one of the five pillars of Islam. Under zakat, Muslims are obligated to give a certain percentage of their income to charity after taking care of their own family’s needs.

“My mother used to say that when you give, God will give back to you,” said Mr. El Tassi.

“The return has been phenomenal. I have a healthy family, healthy children, and healthy grandchildren.”

Mr. El Tassi is a pillar in the Muslim community, having been a major donor to the Islamic Social Services Association, a mosque in Thompson, and the Alhijra Islamic School, among others. His support for the school is especially important to him because, as he said, “education helps to eliminate ignorance and it fosters understanding of different cultures while promoting a better life.”

His philanthropy extends far beyond his own community. Over the years he has supported UNICEF; the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; the Canadian Diabetes Association; World Vision; the United Way; Variety, the Children’s Charity of Manitoba; Winnipeg Harvest; the Winnipeg Foundation; and many, many more. He has also supported international disaster relief efforts, and has sponsored nearly 50 immigrants to Canada.

“We live in a great country and as Canadians we are really blessed,” he said.

Mr. El Tassi’s interest in supporting St-Boniface Hospital Foundation and other health charities also comes from a Muslim tenet that if you save a life, it’s as if you have saved all of humanity. As an active supporter of St-Boniface Hospital Foundation, he chaired the campaign to purchase a dedicated cardiac CT scanner.

Abdo El Tassi has been recognized widely for his philanthropy and community service. He was a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; he is a Member of the Order of Canada; he was named to the Order of Manitoba; and he was named Humanitarian of the Year in 2012 by the Canadian Red Cross, among numerous other honours.