Pan American Silver boss just gifted $4 million to the Canadian Museum of Nature

Vancouver mining magnate Ross Beaty is giving the Canadian Museum of Nature its largest ever philanthropic gift: a $4 million investment to enhance the museum’s national research and collections that are focused on species discovery, the Gatineau, Quebec-based museum announced February 23.

Beaty has founded and divested many companies through his 45 years as a geologist and resource entrepreneur but he may be best known for his current role as founder and chairman of Pan American Silver Corp.

He is also the founder and chairman of Alterra Power Corp., which is a mid-sized renewable energy company with solar, wind, hydro and geothermal power operations in B.C., Texas, Indiana and Iceland.

His $4 million gift is expected to support three initiatives that are core to what will be known as the museum’s Beaty Centre for Species Discovery.

This centre will draw on the museum’s national collections and the expertise of its scientific staff. It is expected to be dedicated to creating, advancing and sharing knowledge about the discovery, naming, evolution, ecology and classification of species, both in the past and the present.

Specific initiatives that the Beaty investment will support include a:

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

“I'm always reminded that less than 1% of human philanthropy goes to nature and the environment,” said Beaty, whose philanthropy also led to the creation of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at University of British Columbia.

“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. 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 museum’s CEO Meg Beckel was excited about the gift and called it “transformational” and something that she hoped would inspire others to support the work of the museum.

“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,” she said.

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