Samuel and Frances Belzberg


By Pamela Yan

Samuel and Frances Belzberg have helped improve the lives of British Columbians and Canadians through their extensive community leadership and philanthropy. UBC is honoured to recognize the Belzbergs’ support of the Alumni Centre, which helped the university pay tribute to the couple’s long-time friend, Robert H. Lee.

A highly successful real estate developer and financier, Samuel Belzberg, OC, OBC, earned a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta. Upon graduating, he founded First City Financial Corporation, a financial holding company that he built into a $7 billion institution. He was the founder and chairman of Gibralt Capital Corporation, a Canadian private investment company.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Frances Belzberg, CM, has had an active career as a public speaker and community leader, with interests in the arts, education and Jewish continuity. She served on the boards of the BC Children’s Hospital, the Vancouver Art Gallery and Action Canada, and was the founding chair of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Samuel founded Action Canada, an organization that partners with the federal government to endow fellowships for bright young people who are interested in making a difference in Canada. He also led Simon Fraser University’s first fundraising campaign. Together, Samuel and Frances established the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for dystonia and related neurological diseases, and has raised millions of dollars for research and outreach.


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