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  6. Canadian Museum of Nature receives $4 million philanthropic gift to support biodiversity research and species discovery

Canadian Museum of Nature receives $4 million philanthropic gift to support biodiversity research and species discovery

A weevil (Sicoderus beatyi).

Species Discovery

Museum Centre

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OTTAWA, February 23, 2017—The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences, announced today its largest-ever philanthropic gift – a $4 million investment from the Ross Beaty family in Vancouver, which will enhance the museum’s national research and collections efforts focussed on species discovery.

The $4 million gift will support three key initiatives which are core to what will be known as the museum’s Beaty Centre for Species Discovery. This Centre of Excellence, which draws on the museum’s national collections and the expertise of its scientific staff, is dedicated to creating, advancing and sharing knowledge about the discovery, naming, evolution, ecology and classification of species, both in the past and the present. The Beaty investment will support:   

  • a national cryogenic facility to curate tissue samples and genetic material;
  • a post-doctoral fellowship on species at risk;
  • and a program to digitize the museum’s extensive collection of Arctic specimens.

All will be based at the museum’s national research and collections facility, the Natural Heritage Campus, in Gatineau, Quebec.

”The Beaty family’s extraordinary generosity is a tremendous endorsement of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s legacy in natural history research, collections management and public outreach about the natural world,” says Meg Beckel, the museum’s President and CEO. “We hope this transformational gift will inspire others to support the work of the museum, as we expand the museum’s ability to share its knowledge worldwide, to mentor future scientists and to inspire understanding, respect and appreciation of the natural world for a better natural future.”

The gift was announced at an event in the presence of Ross and Trisha Beaty, who reside in Vancouver. Mr. Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur, and his wife Trisha Beaty is a physician. Their passion for nature and the environment impelled them to support the museum’s mission.

“I'm always reminded that less than one percent of human philanthropy goes to nature and the environment. Yet our one species is having such a heavy footprint on the other millions of species that don't have voices. So I'm most pleased to lend my support to the museum and its research expertise,” says Ross Beaty, whose philanthropy also led to the creation of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum on the campus of the University of British Columbia. “My hope is that this investment will help promote the Canadian Museum of Nature as a great Canadian biodiversity research institution and enhance its reputation as a great national natural history museum.”

“The Canadian Museum of Nature plays a vital role in preserving Canada’s resources, educating Canadians and inspiring innovation. This donation will enable the museum to further protect and promote our unique natural heritage and diversity, allowing for a meaningful engagement with nature’s past, present and future. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, we encourage Canadians across the country to visit museums, learn from them and reconnect with their history and culture,” says the the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Two million dollars from the $4 million gift will fund the creation of a national cryogenic facility, which will include an examination room, and large, super-cooled vats filled with liquid nitrogen to house tissue samples and genetic material. The material to be stored will come from the museum’s research activities, and from donations by other government and university institutions across Canada, and abroad. 

Another $1 million will support the digitization and high-resolution imaging of the museum’s collections of about 350,000 Arctic specimens. These include some of the best examples in the world of plants, animals, fossils and minerals from this region. The free digital data will ensure this evidence of the Arctic’s natural history is available globally to researchers, students, historians, policy makers and educators. 

A further $1 million will create the Beaty Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Species Discovery. Endowed through the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the fellowship will fund a post-doctoral scientist every two years to investigate species at risk. The scientist’s role will also include public outreach about species loss, species at risk and the importance of conservation to species preservation. The fellowship is slated to begin in spring 2018.

At the announcement, the museum honoured the Beaty donation with a personal gift to the family. Museum entomologist Dr. Bob Anderson, an expert on the group of beetles known as weevils, revealed a species new to science, which he has named Sicoderus beatyi in the family’s honour.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum is a founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada and COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), and collaborates with national and international partners to share knowledge about the natural world.

About Ross Beaty and the Beaty Family
Ross and Trisha Beaty’s philanthropic efforts are centred through their Sitka Foundation, which supports organizations that advance land and nature conservation, invests in community environmental projects and groups globally, and provides leadership in environmental stewardship and education. 

Ross Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur with over 45 years of experience in the international minerals and renewable energy industries. A graduate of the University of British Columbia in geology and law, and Imperial College in geology, Mr Beaty is an internationally recognized leader in both non-renewable and renewable resource development. He has founded and divested a number of companies and remains founder and Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world’s leading silver producers, and founder and Chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a mid-sized renewable energy company with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power operations in B.C., Texas, Indiana and Iceland. Mr. Beaty is also a well-known environmental philanthropist, primarily through The Sitka Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Nature Trust of BC, is a Director of The Pacific Salmon Foundation, a Director of Panthera, and is patron of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. He and his wife Trisha, who is a physician, have a son and four daughters.

Information for media:
John Swettenham
Director, Marketing and Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4249; 613.868.8277 (cell)

Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4781; 613.698.9253 (cell)