Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

"An Announcement That Will Impact Generations:" StFX receives $10 million gift from Amelia and Lino Saputo

April 6th, 2018
StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kent MacDonald is joined by Manny, Lino, Amelia and Gio Saputo to unveil the new Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living at StFX.

An announcement that will impact communities in northeastern Nova Scotia for many generations.

On Friday, April 6, at StFX’s inaugural National Dinner EAST in Halifax, President and Vice-Chancellor Kent MacDonald announced a gift to StFX from Amelia and Lino Saputo in the amount of $10 million.

It’s the largest single gift to St. Francis Xavier University in its 165-year history.

The gift will be used to revitalize StFX’s Oland Centre, which will become the Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living. This revitalization will breathe new life into the aging facility, ensuring that communities throughout northeastern Nova Scotia continue to enjoy health and wellness opportunities for generations to come.


The National Dinner EAST started with great excitement as President Kent MacDonald burst onto the stage during opening marks made by the evening’s master of ceremonies – and StFX Director of Alumni Affairs – Mary Jessie MacLellan.

“I’m sorry Mary Jessie, but I just can’t wait until after dinner to make this announcement!” he exclaimed to the over 400 business, community and political leaders in attendance.

He first shared the context for his excitement.

“In northeastern Nova Scotia, StFX’s Oland Centre has been critical for maintaining community health and wellness since it opened in 1967,” he explained.  “In fact, of all the buildings we have on our campus the Oland Centre sees the highest use, which directly reflects its importance to our region and our communities.

“But the reality is much of the Oland Centre is past its best before date. That’s why we recently began a Healthy Living renewal project to update the centre, so it can remain a hub for community health and wellness for future generations.”

The crowd leapt to its feet when Dr. MacDonald announced the Saputo’s $10 million gift, and the energy stayed high as Amelia and Lino addressed those in attendance.

“My family was always extremely thankful to the country that welcomed them,” said Lino Saputo, in explaining that his own grandfather first immigrated to Canada in 1950 through Pier 21 – the venue for the evening’s special announcement.

“Our parents impressed upon us to never forget our roots and always be appreciative of the community around us. And that’s why we’re here tonight!”

Amelia Saputo also explained why the family, who live in Montreal, chose to support StFX.

“From our very first visit to Nova Scotia, we knew this place was special. Our son felt welcomed at StFX from the very beginning, and we couldn’t think of a better way to support the university and wider community than a health and wellness venue that will be used by the entire region.

“StFX, Antigonish and Nova Scotia will forever be in our hearts!” she added.

Amelia and Lino were then joined by their sons Manny and Gio – a 4th-year business student at StFX – to unveil a rendering of the new Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living.


The revitalized Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living is expected to cost $30 million, almost all of which will come from private donors.

Some of the work has already been completed, including the renovation of the Coack K basketball court, named in honour of long-time StFX men’s basketball coach Steve Konchalski. Replacement of the centre’s exterior bleachers is currently underway, in time for StFX to host the Canadian Special Olympics 2018 National Summer Games this summer. Future work will include an overhaul of the varsity locker rooms and public change areas, a new recreation fitness centre, new physical therapy spaces, a double-sized auxiliary gym, as well as new academic spaces to support student learning.

Many StFX alumni have already given generously to the project, and StFX students voted this January to show their support via a $5 million contribution over the next ten years.


Following the announcement, the evening continued with remarks from Scott Grant, Market Lead for the Affinity Market Group of TD Insurance, the event’s presenting sponsor. He spoke about the dinner’s theme, Celebrate Making a Difference, and the importance of building relationships.

“Successful relationships are not just a result of numbers but rather a sense of working together, and in so doing, making the communities we share a better place,” he said.

“In this same way, it’s clear to me that the alumni and friends in this room are committed to StFX, and are indeed the foundation upon which the present and future successes of this institution are built.”

He also had the honour of introducing the evening’s keynote speaker, Dave Carroll.

Mr. Carroll rose to international fame in 2009 with his viral video hit United Breaks Guitars, taking a frustrating travelling experience and turning it into a message about customer service in the era of social media. Since then Dave has become a sought-after speaker, using his platform to talk about how our stories can be used to make a positive impact within own communities.

“Your story is the most important thing you’ve got,” he said. “And through our stories, we realize we’re fundamentally connected with each other in ways that aren’t always apparent.”

Chair of the StFX Board of Governors, Michael G. Boyd, thanked Dave for his remarks. He also commented on the power of the StFX community to come together to support important causes, like scholarships and bursaries for student athletes – which proceeds from the National Dinner EAST went to support.

“At StFX we proudly proclaim that we have the most engaged alumni in all of Canada, and it’s true!” he said. “But I would also go so far to say that we are fortunate to have the most engaged community, alumni or not. Indeed, the ability to pull together for such a terrific cause as we’ve seen tonight is truly heartwarming.”

He also introduced a special surprise for the Saputo family, as a jazz ensemble of StFX students reunited for a special performance of an original song performed at StFX’s X-Ring ceremony on December 3rd, 2017. It was the very same ceremony where the Saputo’s youngest son Gio received his X-Ring. The jazz ensemble - Rebecca Charnock on vocals, Yaxin Yang on electric guitar, Cassandra Mann on bass and Sebastian Deveau on drums – also entertained guests during dinner.


StFX’s National Dinner has pulled together business, political, academic and community leaders since 2006, all for the ultimate cause – supporting StFX and its students. The concept launched in Toronto and over the years expanded to include events in western Canada. Friday’s event marked the first time the National Dinner was held in eastern Canada.

Following the dinner, attendees enjoyed a lively ceilidh featuring Dave Carroll and his brother Don, who together make up the singing duo Sons of Maxwell.

The inaugural National Dinner EAST was made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors, including presenting sponsor TD Insurance, reception sponsor Benjamin Bridge, dinner sponsor Bird Construction, young alumni sponsor Agnico Eagle, media sponsor The Chronicle Herald, print sponsor Bounty Print, and supporting sponsors O’Regan’s Automotive Group, Mac, Mac & Mac Law Offices, BMO, and Deloitte.


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