Kinaxis supports struggling music industry with funding for virtual concert series

BY: Sam Laprade

Who: John Sicard, CEO, Kinaxis
The sponsorship: $250,000
The recipient: Canadian Live Music Association
The inspiration: “People matter here. Music matters here. We needed to demonstrate our commitment to the music industry as a whole including the people behind the scenes and the artists themselves.” – John Sicard, CEO, Kinaxis

Canada’s live music community is singing the praises of local tech executive John Sicard.

The avid musician and CEO of supply chain management software firm Kinaxis is leading the Kanata company into a new partnership with the Canadian Live Music Association, a non-profit organization that promotes the economic, social and cultural benefits of live music.

Supported by a $250,000 sponsorship from Kinaxis, the new partnership is creating Kinaxis InConcert, a new performance series that will feature approximately 30 concerts live-streamed from stages across Canada. The money will help live music venues and concert promoters cover the costs of staging the virtual events.

“Creating community – and hopefully sparking others to support the music industry – is the goal,” says Sicard, who was named the 2020 CEO of the Year by OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade. “This is the time for us at Kinaxis to create something special for venue operators and artists.”

The live music industry – which includes venue operators, suppliers, technicians and the performers themselves – has been decimated by the pandemic and restrictions on large in-person physical gatherings.

While some have experimented with live-streamed and online concerts, many have faced challenges finding new sources of revenue to cover the production costs.

This makes the support from companies such as Kinaxis so critical, says Erin Benjamin, the president and CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association.

“As a musician himself, John instantly gets it. He knows the importance of music. He knows why artists matter,” she says. “This is the type of corporate leadership that Canada and the world needs.”

Sicard started to play the drums in his early teens and calls music a “lifelong passion.” He recently started to learn how to produce music, something he describes as a “whole new skill,” especially with COVID-19 forcing musicians to record their tracks individually at home, rather than together as a group.

“(Music) is a wonderful hobby and I think everybody should have a passion like this outside of work,” Sicard says.

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Philanthropy in Ottawa: Art auction feeds the heart and the hungry

BY: Sam Laprade

Who: Artist Christopher Griffin and generous art enthusiasts

The donation: More than $36,000

The recipient: Ottawa Food Bank

The inspiration: “When the pandemic struck I knew I had to do something. Not only was there increased demand on the Ottawa Food Bank but they also had to cancel food drives and many of their fundraising events. I decided to help by painting and auctioning the pieces to benefit those in need.” – Christopher Griffin

Thursdays have been busy days for artist Christopher Griffin. Every Thursday from April to September, Griffin auctioned off a piece of his art to support the Ottawa Food Bank and, in turn, helped to feed hundreds of people in Ottawa.

As the pandemic’s full magnitude came into focus in March, Griffin – like many Ottawa residents – was struck by a feeling of helplessness. As he was listening to the radio, he heard that food banks everywhere were feeling the pinch.

Griffin initially considered visiting the local food bank and volunteering his time. But as he thought more about the impact he wanted to make, Griffin knew he could put his creative talent to use and help in a much bigger way.

He headed to his art studio with his heart on his sleeve and created his first piece that was to be auctioned off with 100 per cent of the proceeds donated to the Ottawa Food Bank.

For the next six months, Griffin painted a piece of art for the Every Thursday Art Auction – a huge success that’s raised more than $36,000 to help with food security during COVID-19.

“The Ottawa community has been so supportive of the art auction,” Griffin says, adding that his artwork has even attracted bids from individuals as far away as California. “The food bank serves the most vulnerable people in our community … at this challenging time.”

Griffin decided to take to his canvas again during the month of December to help fellow residents have a happy Christmas. For each Thursday during the holidays, the auction will continue, much to the delight of the Ottawa Food Bank.

“We are so grateful for the talent and generosity that Christopher Griffin continues to lend to the Ottawa Food Bank,” says Rachael Wilson, the interim CEO of the food bank.

“His fans and art enthusiasts across the city have also been incredibly generous, and we feel very fortunate for their contributions.”

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Are flow-through share investments right for you?

By: Jim McConnery, CPA, CA, TEP 

613-236-9191 #529

Our tax regime includes an interesting opportunity for taxpayers who acquire newly issued Flow-Through Shares (“FTS”) from Canadian resource companies. Based on meeting specific requirements, the investor is allowed to deduct the cost of the investment against taxable income, provided that the underlying company spends the funds on exploration and development expenses, and agrees to forgo the expense deduction. Stated another way, the company is passing the expense deduction on to investors. In addition to the tax deduction, an investor will generally get a 15% federal tax credit (some investments also qualify for a provincial tax credit).

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Donors breathe life into ventilator project

BY: Jeff Todd

Arthur McDonald is unique in his appreciation for philanthropy.

After all, he wasn’t born a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Before reaching the pinnacle of his profession in 2015, McDonald was the recipient of an endowed chair at Queen’s University, courtesy of philanthropists Gordon and Patricia Gray, giving him the opportunity to pursue cutting-edge research. Two years after it ended, he would accept the Nobel Prize.

Years earlier, he benefited from the Killam Prize, given to Canada’s top scholars. It’s named after Dorothy Killam, who used her vast fortune to support education and research in her will.

But on Easter Sunday this year, another act of philanthropy would be particularly unique, and leave the eminent scientist “flabbergasted.”

It started with a phone call on the holiday weekend to Donald and Rob Sobey, owners of the second-largest food retailer in Canada. Except this call wasn’t about food, or even particle astrophysics. It was about how philanthropists could help develop a new, low-cost ventilator to save lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The generosity of the individuals who helped us and their immediate response … I was flabbergasted,” said McDonald, who currently serves as professor emeritus at Queen’s University and won the Nobel Prize for his research into the mysteries of dark matter. 

“I came away from those phone calls blessed by the response of those donors. It just made it possible for us to proceed. It was a race against time.”

This race began just a month earlier, in the very teeth of the pandemic.

Back in March, McDonald was contacted by Italian physicist and colleague Cristiano Galbiati, who was in lockdown in Milan – one of the virus’ epicenters at this time. He realized that elements of the technology they were developing in their particle experiments could potentially be applied to a new type of ventilator, one that can be produced quickly and at a relatively low cost.


Whereas a typical ventilator may include 1,500 parts, the proposed prototype would contain just 50 core components. Up to 1,000 units could be manufactured in a month.

With the virus spreading rapidly all around the world, experts soon realized there would be a shortage of PPE and ventilators to treat patients. While it may not have been McDonald’s usual area of expertise, here was a chance to make a contribution to the crisis, he thought.

But they needed help. Working with his Italian colleagues, McDonald rallied the troops. He connected with Vancouver-based TRIUMF, Canada’s major particle accelerator centre and a premier physics laboratory. He also reached out to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Ont., as well as officials at SNOLAB, an underground facility in Sudbury specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics, and academic colleagues in Canada associated with the McDonald Institute, which specializes in astroparticle physics.

Suddenly, some of the best minds in the world were rallied in the fight against COVID-19.

“All of them immediately said, ‘Whatever you need. We will be very willing to help out with this situation,’” he remembers.

“When we got into it, it was quite clear people with a wide variety of skills were pleased to apply them to do something positive to try and help.”

Financing needed

This international gathering of the minds, all volunteers, produced a functioning prototype at astonishing speed – 10 days.

Developing a full-scale, manufacturable, reliable and safe product, however, was another matter.

Dubbed the MVM Ventilator Project, McDonald and the international team set about finding companies that could actually manufacture the product. They decided on Vexos, based in Markham, JMP Solutions in London, Ont. and Elemaster in Italy.

In a true act of philanthropy, McDonald and his colleagues didn’t seek personal gain from the project. All of the research was deemed “open source,” which effectively allows any company in the world to use the design for the benefit of their communities.

Certainly, Canada was paying attention.

In early April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that McDonald and his team would be one of four suppliers that the government could engage for ventilators, with the goal of boosting the country’s stockpile by more than 30,000 units.

So with a working prototype in hand, and a possible order from the Canadian government, the MVM Ventilator Project was off and running. It became a waiting game for the ventilators to receive full approval from Health Canada.

There was just one problem.

“With the demand for ventilators everywhere in the world, many critical components were in short supply,” McDonald explained.

“The companies supplying them were saying, ‘Fine, you can purchase them, but we want a full financial commitment.’ The government contract was 10,000 devices, but in April we needed to come up with the money to secure these components.”

So on that Sunday morning on Easter weekend, Donald and Rob Sobey gladly accepted the Nobel Laureate’s call. While both from the Maritimes, Donald and Rob were also Queen’s University graduates, where McDonald has been a professor since 1989.

By the end of the conversation, the Donald R. Sobey Foundation had made a substantial donation to secure the critical parts, paving the way for one of the most unique and timely partnerships in recent memory.

“I think the world is upside down,” Rob Sobey, a trustee of the Donald R. Sobey Foundation, told CTV News in April.

“Everything is back to front. And here is a really great example of science working with business to come up with new collaborations to get things done. To save lives. This is nothing more than saving lives. I think everyone hopes these ventilators won’t be needed. But it is certainly better to have them and not need them, than the other way around.”

Boosting donations

McDonald’s next call was to Peter Nicholson Sr., the chairman of The Foundation WCPD.

In addition to being a noted economist, advisor to multiple Canadian prime ministers and an Order of Canada recipient, Nicholson had also been McDonald’s college roommate at Dalhousie University and the best man at his wedding.

Nicholson immediately referred him to his son, Peter Nicholson Jr., the president and founder of The Foundation WCPD. As someone who lives and breathes philanthropy, here was someone who could reach more donors.

Since 2006, The Foundation WCPD – a boutique financial services firm – has worked with Canada’s largest philanthropists by using flow-through shares to help them give up to three times more than a standard donation at no additional cost. The firm combines two long-established tax policies: One to assist Canada’s resource sector to create jobs and produce raw materials, and another to give Canadians a tax break for donations to charity, or your standard tax receipt.

What it adds up to is more than $150 million in charitable donations by its clients to charities all across Canada.

“I immediately wanted to help,” said Nicholson Jr., whose company is headquartered in Ottawa. “I have been working with philanthropists for a long time, but this call was special. It was truly humbling to be asked and have the ability to help.”

In addition to making a personal donation, Nicholson quickly set up meetings with other philanthropists over Easter weekend. The Garrett Family Foundation, Josh Felker, Dan Robichaud, Patricia Saputo, Salvatore Guerrera, Nicola Tedeschi and four anonymous donors all contributed to the effort, as did the Lazaridis Family Foundation in answer to a personal contact from McDonald.

The Foundation WCPD’s tax structure helped boost the donations for some of these donors.

“Flow-through shares not only place a significant lever on your giving, but they also allow us clients to quickly laser those donations to a charity of their choice,” Nicholson explains.

Speed, as McDonald said, was indeed the name of the game. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations secured over a holiday weekend, his group could now guarantee the parts needed for the new, life-saving technology.

He also noted that some of the donations, held at Queen’s University in the Dr. Arthur McDonald Ventilator Research Fund, have been used to purchase a human lung simulator to help test the effectiveness of the new technology. Once COVID-19 passes, the equipment will be donated to the medical school, he said.


McDonald also wishes to use some of the donations to assist patients internationally, in places such as South America and Africa, where medical professionals are less-equipped to treat their patients.

Meanwhile, with Health Canada’s approval now secured, production has now begun on 10,000 low-cost, easy-to-manufacture ventilators – just in time.

As Canada settles in for a long winter and the second wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the country and the world, McDonald said he is both amazed and thankful to the donors for their rapid response. He adds that the ability to go from idea to final design to approval within regulatory agencies in just six months is “almost unheard of” and is a testament to society’s ability to pull together in times of crisis.

“I got the immediate impression of the big hearts who were making these quick decisions to support us,” McDonald said.

“I think it is quite unique in terms of the instant response on the part of the donors, at a very critical time for us. Their decisions were clearly made with a humanitarian objective, and I think we have been able to deliver on that vision.”

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Even in crisis, major donors are stepping up

To say we live in unprecedented times is a huge understatement.

In so many ways, our day-to-day lives have fundamentally changed, from the way we do business, to how we socialize with others, and of course, to how we raise money for the charities that are important to us.

On a typical year, I would attend dozens of fundraising events, whether it be galas, golf tournaments, breakfasts or endless cocktail parties. As a philanthropist, I would happily take out my foundation chequebook at the end—it’s how we’ve been raising money for hundreds of years.

And my company, The Foundation WCPD, would always be a loyal sponsor at many of these events.

But once the pandemic hit, the world changed.

Thrust indoors, the nonprofit sector could no longer rely on its “bread and butter”, which in many cases makes up more than half of their annual revenue.

The impact for charities has been massive. How can these nonprofits still hold fundraising events and engage supporters?  But for me, I was more interested in another fundamental question—how will major donors react to this pandemic? Without the cocktails, dinners and performances, will the wealthiest among us still take out their foundation chequebooks?

Like I said, these are unprecedented times. Nobody really knew the answer.

At The Foundation WCPD, we work with Canada’s largest philanthropists. This tried-and-true method of giving is simple, by combining two tax policies that are older than the RRSP: one to assist Canada’s resource sector to create jobs and produce raw materials we need in society, and another to give Canadians a tax break for donations to charity, or your conventional tax receipt. Together, combining these two tax policies allow our clients, on average, to give up to three times more to charity, at no additional cost due to tax efficiency.

The structure is so popular, that traditionally, for nine years running, we’ve run a large donor waiting list of individuals waiting for product.

January and February seemed normal enough. With the Dec 31st tax year now over, some of our clients want to get ahead of the game and make their commitments early. But for the majority of donors, these are typically slower months.

Until suddenly, in early March, we landed a massive opportunity—a $20 million offering from Skeena Resources, a Canadian mining company in British Columbia.

In the best of times, placing $20 million in charity flow through in a little over a month would be difficult. And yet here we are, the worst pandemic in a century, and we have to convince our clients to give their money to charity.

We all remember those early days of COVID-19 and the intense uncertainty that followed. The streets became eerily quiet. Supermarkets shelves were left bare. Meanwhile, global stock markets were crashing.

People are people: whether you have millions in the bank, or just a few dollars, those first months had a major impact on all of us.

Put simply, it was scary.

Our major donors were equally shaken. I remember making those initial calls to donors, who stated:

“Do you know what is going on in the world?”

“Do you not read the news? There is no way I know whether I am even giving to charity at all this year.”

These were the responses my team and I received. Meanwhile, we were also hearing it from charities. What is going to happen? Can we count on WCPD to bring in major donors and create these large donations? Don’t forget—using this structure, our firm has generated donations north of $150 million for clients’ charities across Canada. WCPD, and the use of flow-through shares, have become a significant engine driving major donations across the country.

So the pressure was on.

I remember working harder than I ever have in 30 years in business. More phone calls, more emails. The whole team at WCPD put in a massive effort. We contacted more and more accounting, law firms and referral sources to help find donors.

Don’t forget—for the last 9 years, WCPD has had a waiting list of donors. In addition to the panic of the pandemic, there was another element at play.

You see, the flow-through share structure depends on a three-legged stool. There are the donors buying shares, the mining companies issuing stock and the liquidity providers that purchase this stock from the donors. These liquidity providers understand the mining industry and assume the stock market risk for the donor. And traditionally, there has always been a shortage of liquidity providers. But the tide has been turning. The mining business had been in the worst bear market of all time, from 2011 to 2019. It took a pandemic to wake up the industry. People did not just depend on technology stocks, but real assets.

And with the government printing money for relief packages to keep the country’s economy afloat, there has been a push to gold.

For 5,000 years, gold has been money. And not much has changed. Suddenly, investors are searching for a gold position. Whereas in the past they may have a 1% gold position, now they are seeking 5% or even 10% of their portfolio. This has been a rocket fuel for liquidity providers.

That three-legged stool is now even. Suddenly, there is no donor waiting list, and our job just got that much harder in 2020. We need donors.

The dam didn’t break right away, although two things shifted once March gave way to April. First, we approached our major donors with a very clear message—your charities need you. Indeed, with no events, and the needs of society only rising amid COVID-19, philanthropists had to be philanthropists.

Where they chose to give also changed. Whereas in the past they might have more personal causes, donations tended to shift to more fundamental needs, such as food banks.

The second thing that changed was the stock market. By April, society wasn’t quite as panicked. Stocks rebounded, and donors started to feel better. The world wasn’t coming to an end.

And when the dam did break, it was overwhelming. We blew past that $20 million offering, so much so that Skeena tacked on another $13 million. At the end of the day, we ended up closing a $33.3 million raise in the teeth of a pandemic, the largest raise in our company’s history. That meant not only millions for charities that needed it, but also the creation of well paid jobs for Canadians in the exploration sector.

And the giving hasn’t slowed down since. With plenty of liquidity providers and mining companies issuing stock, it has been a constant race to bring more donors to the table.

The experience taught me a couple things about philanthropy.

I have always felt that getting likeminded people into a room together is important to charitable giving. When this pandemic is far behind us, we will return to the galas and golf tournaments. And we should. Giving is about relationships, and a cause that touches your heart. The best way to achieve that is by bringing people together to tell a story.

That said, it is not necessarily the most efficient way to raise large sums of money.

The best way to give, by far, is not cash donations or a chequebook, but flow-through shares with an immediate liquidity provider. It is using this lever in our long established tax policy to encourage the wealthiest among us to give more than they ever have.

With the loss of charitable events, leveraging major gifts has never been more important. And COVID-19 taught us that, now more than ever, we must innovate and find new ways to fund the programming and causes that are important to our communities.

The second thing this pandemic has taught me, or perhaps what it has reaffirmed, is the strength of the human spirit.

When I picked up the phone for the first time in March, even our longtime clients said no. And in early April, they changed and said yes. People needed time to regroup and make sense of the world again.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. Our team here at The Foundation WCPD pulled together, along with accounting and law firms, the foundations and professional fundraisers, and of course, the philanthropists. When you ask other humans for help, they often do. It was a complete effort.

In this Brave New World, we all must pull a bit more weight. Here at The Foundation WCPD, this is our biggest year of giving yet, because charities do need more. Whereas in the past we might be purchasing more tables at galas, and sponsorships, now we are making more donations to food banks. We have also made donations in medical innovation. In this year’s Giving Guide, you will read about Dr. Art McDonald, one of Canada’s Nobel Prize winning physicists, who has developed  more efficient, low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients. Quick thinking donors, in collaboration with scientists and the government, made this medical innovation possible.

And we have supported emergency relief funds in our city, including a major donation to the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Emergency Fund.

This pandemic has been a time of dizzying change. We might not have a fancy ballroom, or cocktail in our hand. At the same time, it has also reaffirmed something very important: philanthropist will always be philanthropists.

When pressed up against the wall, we are all capable of amazing things.

For decades, Peter Nicholson has been a recognized leader in Canadian tax assisted investments, with a specialized focus on philanthropic tax planning and tax reduction. Through his work with countless donors, foundations and institutions and boards, he has helped generate in excess of $150 million for client donations. To learn more about The Foundation (WCPD) and how it can assist your philanthropic goals, write

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