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Honouring Emmanuelle Gattuso

Inspirational philanthropist receives an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Guelph 

Emmanuelle Gattuso, centre, with Stephanie Nykamp, OVC Associate Dean Clinical Program, on the left and OVC Dean Jeff Wichtel, on the rightWhether it’s supporting a cause that is close to her heart in the arts, culture or health, Emmanuelle Gattuso’s philanthropy is a catalyst for progress and innovation to improve the lives of people and animals. 

It is the love and admiration Gattuso has for animals and her own pets that inspired her $2.5-million gift to OVC Pet Trust’s Friends Together for Longer Campaign at the Ontario Veterinary. The gift, made through her philanthropic foundation, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, will support the construction of the James Slaight Advanced Surgical Complex, a part of new surgery and anesthesia facilities within the OVC Health Sciences Centre located at the University of Guelph. The new surgical complex will be named in memory of Gattuso and her husband Allan Slaight’s pet poodle James, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 12. The complex will include eight operating suites equipped to offer numerous routine and advanced surgical procedures. The new facilities are scheduled to open in early 2019. 

Emmanuelle Gattuso_Intern Office Improvements in Honour of Stewart and James Gattuso SlaightGattuso was recognized for her philanthropy with an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Guelph’s June 2018 Convocation and she was asked to address the graduating class. 

She shared with them that philanthropy is about more than money: “Giving has a monetary connotation but the most important element of giving is time. Time is the most precious thing we have. We can’t buy it, we can’t trade it, we can’t accumulate it – but we can give it”. 

As a cancer survivor herself, Gattuso was inspired to create the Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, which reduced the terrible stress of waiting for a cancer diagnosis from an average wait time of 5.3 weeks to just one day. The model has since been copied in other hospitals around the world in many different types of cancer, allowing thousands of patients to receive quicker diagnoses, spend less time worrying and potentially starting treatment sooner. 

Touring the OVC Health Sciences Centre construction renovationsGattuso tours construction of the new surgery and anesthesia facilities within the OVC Health Sciences Centre located at the University of Guelph.

Gattuso compared graduation to being at the bottom of Mount Everest and that it will be up to each graduate to decide what they’re going to do, why they’re going to do it, how and with whom. “You might decide to stay right there at the well-deserved base camp, or you might ask yourselves if you should climb, how high you should aim – why you’ll climb that mountain, and just as important, how it will help others.” 

“I would venture to say that this is the time for you to reset your clock and appreciate the importance of each minute of your lives. It’s the time to reset your heart and your generosity. It’s the time to follow your instinct, to listen to your heart and to decide how you are going to make this world a better place,” she delivered in her convocation speech. 

OVC Dean Dr. Jeffrey Wichtel highlights how fortunate OVC Pet Trust and the Ontario Veterinary College are to be the recipients of Gattuso’s generosity. 

“The kind of philanthropy, vision and passion Emmanuelle exemplifies has supported the creation of world-class veterinary facilities, which will help OVC lead the way in making new discoveries and remain at the forefront of advanced medical care in Canada and around the world,” Wichtel says. 

Gattuso feels privileged she can help pets, who give back so much to their people. 

“Give something to someone every day and you will make this world a better place for everyone,” she concluded her convocation address.