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A financial gift of historic proportions was made by the Suncor Energy Foundation to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. At $10-million, the donation is the single largest endowment ever received by the Alberta institution nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The funds, which will be spread over five years, are intended to support the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership and Social Innovation programs for a decade.

“Strong leaders who can navigate complexity are essential for building resilient communities that can adapt and thrive through change,” Suncor Energy Foundation chair Eric Axford said in a statement released to the media. “Banff Centre has a proven track record of world-class programming that inspires bold leadership.”

Given that the donation from Suncor comes at a time when Western Canada’s oil and gas sector is ailing, the $10-million represents a surprising, substantial windfall for the Banff Centre. The institution was founded in 1933 by the University of Alberta, with a grant from the U.S.-based Carnegie Foundation. In a released statement, Banff Centre president and CEO Janice Price described the Suncor grant as “transformational.”

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The Centre has enjoyed a 16-year-long relationship with Suncor. The new gift will support educational programs under the Centre’s Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative, founded in 2014 in honour of the late Alberta premier.

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