Samantha Wilson and John Wilson, co-chairs of the Together for Health fundraising campaign, Wednesday announced that Camosun’s new health science building will appear as the Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness. The late Alex Campbell co-founded Thrifty Foods and was one of Victoria’s most prominent philanthropists along with his wife Jo. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Major donation provides boost to Camosun’s new health and wellness centre

Alex Jo CampbellCentre for Health and Wellness will be located on Interurban campus

Camosun’s new health science education building under construction will bear the name of a late local entrepreneur who co-founded Thrifty Foods.

Samantha and John Wilson, co-chairs of the Together for Health fundraising campaign, announced Wednesday that the new health science education centre under construction on Camosun’s Interurban campus will appear as the Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness.

Alex Campbell, who died in 2011 at the age of 70, started his business career at the age of 15 bagging groceries. He opened the first location of the chain in 1977 with his business partner Ernie Skinner. When Sobeys purchased Thrifty Foods from Campbell in 2007, the business had 20 locations, 3,700 employees and a total value of $260 million, with Canadian Grocer describing Campbell as the founder of a “mini-empire that focused on customer service and fresh food.”

Campbell, along with his wife of 49 years, Jo, was also one of Victoria’s most prominent philanthropists, and a foundation bearing the names of the couple continues to support various social causes.

“They [the Campbells] have given so much to the community,” said John Wilson, president of the Wilson’s Group of Companies. “Alex is missed so much. Thank goodness his family has carried on his great tradition and to have their name on the building is fantastic.”

Samantha Wilson said it is amazing to have earned the support of the Campbells. “Anybody who has been living in Victoria long enough knows the impact that the Campbell family has had on our community, and as a family, for our company, we try to mirror that in our community giving. The Campbell family is a real inspiration to us.”

Sherri Bell, president of Camosun College, said the fundraising campaign reflects the community-driven nature of the college. “Naming the building after the Campbell family not only reflects the family’s long-standing support of the college, it [also] reflects their well-known philanthropy and long-time support of their community.”

Jo Campbell said in a release that the chain has always supported health care-related causes. “We like to be on the cutting-edge, supporting the incubators where all these future health professionals will come from,” she said.

The value of the contribution tops $1 million. This figure, coupled with an other major donation said to be announced in the fall, the fundraising campaign has already reached past the halfway point.

Geoff Wilmshurt, Camosun’s vice-president for partnerships, said this level of support at this stage shows the connection between the college and the community.

“We are now receiving seven-figure donations, which we had never imagined would come to us,” he said. “We are stepping into our own now. People are recognizing the importance of Camosun in the community and want to support Camosun.”

The new centre itself will bring over 1,000 students together from 15 different disciplines to a new state-of-the art facility at our Interurban campus.

Bell said she could not be more excited for students, who will be able to learn and work in the new building, which also feature state-of-the-art equipment.

Plans call for the construction of the new building to wrap up by the end of this calendar year. Classes in the new building would then begin in the fall of 2019.


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