Just as wearing team colours to the Redblacks' home games is tradition, so is Ottawa businessman Jeff Hunt's willingness to provide his luxury condo — during those games — as a venue for charitable groups to raise money.
His place at The Rideau at Lansdowne overlooks the TD Place Stadium field. Moreover, its large balcony is so close to the action that you can practically intercept the play, or so it feels.
Supporters of the Bruyère Foundation gathered there Friday to see the Redblacks take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was the latest charity tailgate party hosted by Hunt.
Dozens of invited guests watched the game while being served drinks and while snacking on chili honey glazed confit duck wings, braised beef tacos, roasted pork sandwiches and other tasty treats from DISH Catering. Thank goodness the late-afternoon showers were done, allowing for a rainbow to make an appearance just beyond the south-side stands.
Attendees were encouraged to make a donation to the charitable arm of Bruyère Continuing Care, one of the largest health care centres of its kind in Canada. It addresses the health care needs of the rapidly aging population by offering complex continuing care, geriatric rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, palliative care and affordable housing for seniors.
Bruyère focuses on helping people home and restoring their quality of life.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will assist the Bruyère Foundation with purchasing important medical equipment not funded by the provincial government. Staff brought along a handheld ultrasound scanner that night as an engaging way of showing everyone where their money was going.
Present were the foundation's president and CEO Peggy Taillon; Bruyère Continuing Care president and CEO Guy Chartrand; Helene Sveistrup, CEO and chief scientific officer of the Bruyère Research Institute, and Bruyère’s chief of staff, Dr. Shaun McGuire, who was enjoying a father-son night out.
Ottawa Community Foundation president and CEO Marco Pagani was among the guests. So were Yorkville Asset Management wealth advisor Joanne Kudakiewicz, fresh off collecting her Forty Under 40 Award a couple of weeks earlier, and Nicole Burris, wife of football hero Henry Burris. She was joined by their two sons.
Burris, a retired Grey Cup-winning quarterback for the Redblacks and an ambassador for Bruyère, was busy covering the game that night as a TSN football analyst.
Hunt is one of the partners of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns and operates the Redblacks, the OHL 67’s and the USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury FC. It also manages TD Place stadium and arena.
Until recently, Hunt was also president of the Redblacks. He had signed up to do the job for four years and stayed for an extra two. He stepped down at the end of 2018.
“They don’t need my help anymore,” Hunt told OBJ.social at the party. “We’ve got so many good staff now and such a great executive team. I’ve always believed that the guy who builds a business shouldn’t be the guy who runs it once it’s built."
The self-made entrepreneur and native of Stephenville, Nfld. says he’s still got a lot of gas in the tank. He's dabbling a little in real estate. He's also exploring other business opportunities.
“Running large operating companies is not my specialty at all," he said. “I’m looking for my next big thing, that I could bring value to. I haven’t found it yet. I’ve got a couple of ideas that are too early yet to talk about.”
Hunt was involved in founding Canada’s largest private cannabis retailer, National Access Cannabis Corp. It aims to have 40 operating stores by the end of 2019 and 110 stores by the end of 2020, according to a recent newswire release. He stepped down from its board last year.
Hunt also remains governor for the 67's.