Back in May, we reported on the newly formed Weston Brain Institute, which arose from funding provided by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Weston Foods. When they stepped up to the plate and committed $10 million per year to study the neurodegenerative diseases of aging, we took notice.
And now that another big Canadian philanthropy is announcing a push toward funding neurodegenerative disease research, we’re taking notice again.
This week, Western University in London, Ontario, announced a $5 million gift from Jim and Louise Temerty and the Temerty Family Foundation, and, yup, they’re homing right in on neurodegeneration. So what is it with Canada? I mean, what’s with Canada and neurodegeneration?
You’d think it was a point of national pride or something, the way the Canucks seem to be throwing their weight behind diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.Well, Canada has an aging population. Canada’s baby boom generation is shuffling toward its dotage, just like it is on our side of the border. But in Canada, a lower birth rate over the past few decades has led to a smaller Millennial generation, which in turn puts Canada in line for all manner of financial shortfalls, not to mention healthcare hurdles, as the country deals with big increases in such problems as dementia.
Demographics have more bearing on philanthropic trends than you might think, and Canada is certainly no exception. If you’re a philanthropist looking to set up a new initiative, regardless of your own personal beliefs and interests, you'll likely want an organization that’s in sync with the era. You'll want something that’s both needed and valued by the community, and in Canada, that happens to look a lot like what we’re seeing: initiatives seeking cures and treatments for neglected diseases like ALS that are only going to become more pronounced as Canadians age.