February 28, 2024

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Calgary philanthropist Joan Snyder remembered

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Calgarians are mourning the loss of philanthropist Joan Snyder.

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Snyder, who died on Thursday, was considered an icon in the sporting community, particularly regarding her passion for expanding opportunities for women in hockey. She was also well known for her involvement with several organizations in the city, many who wrote tributes to Snyder in wake of her death.

Calgarians may recognize Snyder’s name on display at the University of Calgary or at the Joan Snyder arena at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

“Joan was a key contributor to WinSport’s creation of one of the most unique sport environments in the world,” reads a tribute to Snyder posted to WinSport’s website.

“WinSport is honoured to have a woman of Joan’s passion and character supporting our vision. She supported so many great causes and individuals to make our city and Canada a better place.”

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The list of accomplishments Snyder made possible in Calgary is long and stretches over decades.

In 2008, Joan donated $9 million to a University of Calgary medical program to create the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.

Her contribution allowed the research institute to flourish by attracting the best researchers and clinicians in the world to Canada, providing world-class training to students and acquiring critical state-of-the-art equipment for research into critical care and disease, according to the university.

“Philanthropy is more than money, it’s people helping people,” Synder previously told the University of Calgary. “The community coming together, each giving what they can and supporting each other, just as my parents taught me. Better a booster than a knocker, be.”

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Snyder’s mother started playing hockey in the 1920s at the age of five, which ignited her own passion for the sport, according to WinSport’s tribute.

Snyder attended the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, where she watched the Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams win gold. She then met with players from the women’s Olympic hockey team, which inspired a donation to the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“Joan was instrumental in funding the launch of the franchise for the 2011-12 season. The team played its home games at her namesake rink, the Joan Snyder Arena, at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.”

In 2011, Snyder donated $500,000 to the University of Calgary to create the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence in Women’s Hockey. The gift took the U of C Dinos through the 2015-16 season with more resources for their student athletes.

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“Joan was a champion for women’s hockey. Her generosity and philanthropic spirit have made an impact at (the University of Calgary) through the creation of the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence and many other initiatives,” reads a post from the UCalgary Dino’s Twitter page.

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Her generosity has also touched organizations including Heritage Park and the Calgary Humane Society.

Snyder and her mother founded the Phoebe and Joan Snyder Education Fund at Calgary Humane Society more than 25 years ago to support humane education activities.

At Heritage Park, a donation from Snyder made the restoration of a historic Canadian railcar possible. Snyder’s contributions also made the park’s sesquicentennial exhibit Journey of a Lifetime possible, which combined live theatre and an interactive exhibit together in 2018.

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In 2013, Snyder was named to the Order of Canada for her contributions to sport, education, social services, the arts and health care in Alberta.

“Thanks to her giving, the University of Calgary funds medical programs in critical care research and in infectious diseases. In addition, the university’s women’s hockey team has benefited from improved sports services and scholarships,” reads a post on the Governor General of Canada’s website.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BrittGervaisAB

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