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Yarrow couple leaves nearly $230 million in property to MCC

Mennonite Central Committee says Rempels’ donation to be felt for generations to come
Henry and Mary Rempel, who used to live in Yarrow, left nearly $230 million in properties to MCC. (Submitted photo)

A Yarrow couple have left an immense donation — $229.6 million in property B.C. — to the Mennonite Central Committee.

Henry Rempel died earlier this year, and his wife Mary Rempel died in 2014.

In a press release, MCC said the couple “wanted to help the poorest of the poor,” and that was the reasoning behind the gift of a large portfolio of rental and development properties.

MCC BC’s executive director said the organization is honoured to be chosen for this type of philanthropic gift.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift,” Wayne Bremner said. “We know that, globally, more than 110 million people have been forced to flee their homes. And more than 800 million — one in ten — go to bed on an empty stomach each night. The needs around the world are staggering, and this gift will increase MCC’s capacity to respond.”

For more than 100 years, MCC has worked to address challenges like hunger and displacement, responding to real and urgent needs around the world, and working for peace and justice. MCC carries out its relief, development and peace efforts with partners in some 45 countries, as a Christian organization.

The release explained that Henry Rempel and his family were assisted by MCC in the 1920s as they fled the Soviet Union and came to Canada as refugees, settling in Yarrow. Mary Rempel and her family fled Lithuania during the Second World War, arriving in B.C. in 1948.

Throughout their lives, the Rempels had hearts for those who were suffering, the release continued. He worked in psychology with people living with mental health challenges. Mary was a teacher. Then, at an age when many people would be contemplating retirement, they moved into business, operating and developing rental properties throughout B.C. and Alberta.

“We are humbled that Henry and Mary chose to partner with MCC to steward this generous and strategic gift to assist the world’s most vulnerable people,” says Bremner. “The Rempels have truly left a legacy that will be felt for generations to come.”

The properties are located across the province, held in subsidiary companies owned by MCC BC, and collectively referred to as HyLand Properties. HyLand is also managing previous gifts of real estate from the Rempels, beginning with their first donation of property in 2012. HyLand’s purpose is to operate the full portfolio of properties on an ongoing basis and to generate annual income for MCC, similar to an endowment.

“Henry Rempel never forgot the hardships endured by his family, and the assistance MCC provided,” says Bill Battison, Rempel’s long-time friend and representative. “He and his wife wanted to make a significant, lasting impact — to serve those with the greatest needs. “Henry and Mary Rempel have entrusted MCC to steward this legacy gift with care and integrity, and to ensure the resulting resources are applied to help transform lives around the world — today and long into the future.”

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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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