An honourable gift forward

OTTAWA — I’ve known Richard Patten since before he was a cabinet minister in Patten%26Gillet189X124.jpgDavid Peterson’s government, since before he was Richard actually. I first knew him as Rick, when he was working with the YMCA in Montreal. I don’t know who teased Richard out of him but it doesn’t much matter because it didn’t change the man.

What a man! Cancer-survivor. Defeated once in the post-Peterson sweep, he took his talents to raising funds for CHEO. Back as MPP for two terms, he retired prior to last year’s election to a resounding vote of appreciation from the community. One tangible outcome was a testimonial dinner that raised $38,000 as a token of gratitude. Last week Rick gave it all to Algonquin College. There is a provincial program that matches private donations, so his gift was effectively doubled to more than $76,000.

It will kickstart a bursary to provide much needed financial assistance for Aboriginal students at Algonquin. The PattenMug128X177.jpgcollege is named after the Indian nation that once occupied most of the lands in eastern Ontario.

Since leaving politics, he has been working with Rod Bryden at Plasco Energy, the company that expects to reduce waste and produce energy in one pass. Rod wrote a memo to staff last week, part of which reads,

“Richard (Rod hasn’t known Rick as long as I have) believes education is a source of improving options and freedoms and so is delighted to help out in a small way to assist Aboriginal students grow and learn in order to find meaningful work. Richard hopes to continue to raise funds every two years to grow the principal to assist even more young Aboriginal students.”

Doesn’t surprise me.

I’m including two photos because the one at the presentation, with Algonquin president Bob Gillet, barely shows his features. The mugshot is what he looks like on his best days and when he’s stepping out with Penny Patten, a lifelong educator and mother of their son and daughter.

Tony Patterson
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